As Police Departments Are Identified For Traffic Stop Disparities, Chiefs Push Back
HARTFORD, CT — The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association is pushing back with its own academic research against the third annual report to the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Advisory Board.
The annual report, which is mandated by the Alvin W. Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act, is compiled by the Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy.
The report released Thursday, which covers traffic stop data for 2015 through 2016, found significant disparities in the rate of Hispanic and Black motorists stopped during daylight relative to darkness.
The seven police departments with disparities under what’s called the “veil of darkness” test were Berlin, Meriden, Monroe, Newtown, Norwich, Ridgefield, and State Police Troop B.
When a different test was used that compares traffic stop data using three different benchmarks for resident population and estimated driving population Trumbull, Darien, Stratford, East Hartford, and Wethersfield. showed up with significant disparities.
During a briefing Thursday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Ken Barone, CCSU’s IMRP project manager, said Wethersfield, which was one of five continues to be only department whose disparities have gotten larger “year over year and across every measure we use.”
For three years in a row, Wethersfield, Stratford, and East Hartford have been identified in reports to the advisory board.
Barone said he doesn’t want to leave anyone with the impression that a “disparity equals profiling.”
What’s happening in Wethersfield is “significant disparities in every way you look at the data and they’re the only department this is happening to.”
Wethersfield Police Chief James Cetran said the report is flawed because it doesn’t take into account that the city borders the south end of Hartford, includes the only two major supermarkets in the area, and is home to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Wethersfield Police Chief James Cetran talks about being identified in the report for racial profiling.Posted by CTNewsJunkie.com on Thursday, November 9, 2017
“There are a lot of minorities in the south end of Hartford who have to drive into Wethersfield to do their grocery shopping,” Cetran said.
He said that minority population is not accounted for in regards to the “estimated driving population” that the report uses. He argued the Hispanic driving population in Wethersfield is much higher than the population that resides there.
“Fine throw it out and you still show up on five other tests,” Barone said.
The only test where the estimated driving population is not used is the “veil of darkness” test and Cetran said the methodology is flawed because it assumes the officers can identify the race or ethnicity of the driver during the daylight.
“It was never designed for Hispanic,” Cetran said. “How do you know if it’s Hispanic and not Italian or Lebanese?”
He said there’s a University of Michigan study that found a person can only tell the race or ethnicity of a person driving a car 19 percent of the time.
The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association presented data from three universities to the Connecticut Racial Profiling Advisory Board Thursday.
One review from Michael Smith at the University of Texas at San Antonio concluded that some of the methods being used are sound but the “population-based benchmarking analyses” are “unsound.”
In the third year of the report, the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association said they have reservations about the validity of the reports.
But Barone is sticking by the data.
He said there are 20 police departments identified over the past two years who have worked with the group to find solutions for how to reduce their disparities.
James Fazzalaro, co-project manager with Barone, said the follow up with police departments identified in the report was based on how involved the police departments wanted to be in the process.
“It’s very clear departments benefit from this process the most when they choose to participate in it,” Fazzalaro said.
He said in towns like Meriden where they had an open dialogue they were able to tell the police department the data was showing them something different than what the department was telling them in one part of town.
He said he believes every municipal police department in the state would benefit from going through an analysis of their traffic stop data.
“The vast majority of people in Connecticut and this country believe that racial profiling should not exist,” Andrew Clark, CCSU’s IMRP director said. “This is evidenced in the multitude of laws banning it, including the one that drives this project in Connecticut.”
He said addressing racial profiling in a measurable has vexed just about every state.
But what Connecticut is showing them is that “having the difficult data-driven conversations, over time we can begin to chip away at the solutions,” Clark said. “This year’s annual report provides another step forward in this process.”
David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said this recent report, like the two others before it, “shows that some police in Connecticut are disproportionately stopping Black and Latino drivers and unjustly targeting neighborhoods where people of color live and drive.”
He said it’s unacceptable for the behavior of certain police departments to go unchecked.
Ken Barone, of CCSU's Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP), talks about year three of racial profiling data. He is manager of the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project.Posted by CTNewsJunkie.com on Thursday, November 9, 2017