Connecticut Makes ‘Significant’ Progress On Tracking Racial Profiling
The Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy and the Racial Profiling Prohibition Advisory Board report revealed that 95 percent of Connecticut’s police departments are now compliant with the law while only three departments have had issues adhering to it.
“This is a very positive sign that law enforcement agencies want to be strong partners in our efforts to eradicate racial profiling,” CCSU Policy and Research Specialist Ken Barone said last month. “Even in cases where departments were notified that information was not being reported, steps have been taken to assure full compliance as soon as possible,” he said.
For more than a decade, the state failed to enforce the law requiring municipal police departments to annually report traffic stop data to the African-American Affairs Commission. The data was then going to be analyzed for racial profiling. But since the Alvin Penn Act was passed in 1999, only one report had been issued. According to 2010 data, only 27 of the state’s police departments comply with the reporting aspect of the law and the data that has been reported hasn’t been assessed by the state.
According to the report, 98 agencies are considered to be in full compliance with the data collection requirements, while three agencies are in partial compliance.
New London, Suffield and West Haven have been deemed non-compliant.
The report notes that these three non-compliant departments have been collecting data, but not as required by law. Meaning, the data was not correctly transmitted to Criminal Justice Information System for review.
Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven, said this is an issue “where we’ve made a lot of progress.”
He said the state has gone from ignoring the problem to working collaboratively with police departments to correct it.
“This is a huge step forward,” Holder-Winfield said.
The 2012 law puts the Office of Policy and Management in charge of enforcing the reporting requirements and assessing the data. It also required the creation of a racial profiling advisory board, and a standardized form police will use to report the data.
The advisory board came up with a double-sided information card last October to give drivers after traffic stops.
The new law now requires police officers to provide every motorist they stop with instructions on how to file a complaint. The American Civil Liberties Union suggested that filing a complaint against an officer was too difficult, so that information now appears on a card that police hand to drivers after the traffic stop.
In addition to supplying drivers with complaint instructions, officers are also required under the new provisions to fill out a questionnaire after each traffic stop.
The questionnaire intends to collect data regarding the race, gender, and age of the stopped drivers in addition to details regarding the methods used to conduct the stop. The data collected is then sent to the Office of Policy and Management on a monthly basis for review.
“This is the first report and although we have made great strides, there is a long way to go,” William Dyson, co-chair of the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project’s advisory board, said in the press release. “We recognize there have been some difficulties in gaining full compliance with the law, and we will resolve these problems as we continue working collectively to eradicate profiling in the state,” he said.
Christine Stuart contributed to this report.