HARTFORD – During an interview with WTNH, Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin announced that the U.S. Department of Justice will be taking over the criminal investigation into the Connecticut State Police traffic ticket scandal.
The following is a reaction from ACLU of Connecticut public policy and advocacy director Claudine Constant:
“Connecticut has long recognized that one tool to protect Black and Brown lives from dangerous police traffic stops is to have complete information about who police pull over. The audit into Connecticut State Police suggests that for years, state police have been over-reporting how often they stop white drivers and under-reporting how often they stop Black, Latinx, and other drivers of color, with the end result that racial disparities in police traffic stops have most likely been worse than reported. By potentially violating our state’s anti-racist law tens of thousands of times, State Police have caused real harm to real people, and that harm must be redressed. Local prosecutors with the Division of Criminal Justice are not autonomous enough from State Police to conduct a truly independent investigation, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s takeover of the criminal investigation is therefore a welcome step. We hope the DOJ will conduct a thorough, meaningful, and swift investigation that identifies not only the individuals responsible for over-and-under-reporting tickets, but the lack of oversight that allowed this systemic rot to go unchecked.”
Under the Alvin W. Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act, police agencies in Connecticut, including state police, are required to report all traffic stops, in order to help prevent racial profiling by police. According to an audit conducted by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, from 2014 to 2021, hundreds of Connecticut State Police throughout the state reported tens of thousands of fake traffic stops and failed to report thousands of real traffic stops. That audit found that State Police over-reported stops of white drivers by logging fake tickets and underreported real traffic stops of drivers of color by failing to log records.
The ACLU of Connecticut has called on Governor Lamont, POSTC, and the Connecticut General Assembly to:
- conduct an outside, independent investigation that identifies not only the individuals but lack of oversight that allowed police to break the anti-racist law thousands of times;
- decertify all police involved, including those who have retired or are no longer employed by the Connecticut State Police and the supervisors who enabled or allowed false records to flourish;
- mandatory reporting of verbal warnings by police;
- a comprehensive plan for outside, independent oversight of the Connecticut State Police moving forward;
- introduction and passage of legislation to end secondary traffic stops in Connecticut.