An Inquiry Conducted In Connecticut Concludes That State Troopers’ Racial Profiling Data Breaches Were Not Intended

According to a report released on Thursday by independent investigators, the Connecticut State Police’s inaccurate racial profiling data on traffic stops was primarily caused by data-entry errors and other mishaps, rather than a deliberate attempt by troopers to submit false information.

An Inquiry Conducted In Connecticut Concludes That State Troopers' Racial Profiling Data Breaches Were Not Intended

Seven policemen with disparities in their data were recommended by investigators to state police internal affairs for more examination, but the study also stated that 74 other officers were deemed “not likely” to have engaged in misconduct. Additionally, they noted there was no proof that any trooper had committed a transgression to falsify the state’s police racial profiling statistics.

Governor Ned Lamont ordered the independent inquiry after an audit last year found that dozens of troopers may have provided the state’s anti-racial profiling system with incorrect or misleading information on thousands of traffic stops that were thought to have never occurred. According to auditors, this data gave the impression that troopers stopped more white drivers than they did.

The state’s commissioner of public safety and state police commander were replaced as a result of the audit conducted by data analysts at the University of Connecticut. The audit raised questions about the veracity of recurring state-wide reports on the racial and ethnic composition of drivers stopped by police, which have revealed that Black and Hispanic drivers are disproportionately stopped by law enforcement.

Under the direction of veteran federal prosecutor Deirdre Daly, the outside investigators reported that they discovered “significant failures” on the part of the state police to provide accurate data due to unintentional errors; nevertheless, they added that the extent of possible malfeasance was significantly less than what the audit had indicated. The report stated that many of the issues were caused by leadership errors and troop inadequacies.

Daly’s crew seemed to be reporting more traffic stops than they were doing, so they forwarded six troopers and a constable to state police internal affairs investigators. The report stated that even while there was no evidence of wrongdoing, it was impossible to pinpoint the cause of the overreporting.

According to the article, due to issues with their data, state police leadership will also refer five to eight other troopers to internal affairs.

Ronnell Higgins, the state’s new commissioner of public safety, announced that all troopers referred to internal affairs had been relieved of their traffic enforcement responsibilities. Should misbehaviour be proven, they risk losing their police credentials and being sacked.

“The fact that even one trooper, one trooper, has been referred to internal affairs investigation for potential falsification of traffic stop data is troubling to me, and its troubling to all the troopers who are out there doing their work every day. I won’t tolerate it,” Higgins said at a news conference with Lamont at the state Capitol in Hartford.

Speaking about the officers referred to internal affairs, Lamont said, “I think there’s a sense that if there were some overreporting, a lot of it was done just trying to enhance the look of productivity, that they were doing more than otherwise.”

UConn researchers found that more state police traffic penalties were recorded into the state database, which keeps track of drivers’ racial and ethnic backgrounds, than were submitted to the state court system, which is responsible for handling all traffic citations, according to the audit that was made public in June of last year.

From 2014 to 2021, the researchers said they had a “high degree of confidence” that troopers had entered into the database erroneous or fraudulent information about citations for at least 25,966 traffic encounters and perhaps more than 58,000 stops that never occurred.

According to the audit, 130 troopers had information about traffic stops that was entered into the database that differed significantly from that which was entered into the court system. According to the updated report, state police have cleared over 90 of the 130 troopers following the audit after examining their records. That review is still under progress.

Nevertheless, the UConn experts pointed out that they did not look into the possibility that any of the dubious data was fabricated on purpose or was the consequence of negligence or human mistake.

An investigation by Hearst Connecticut Media, which claimed that four state troopers in a barrack in eastern Connecticut had purposefully generated hundreds of fake traffic stop tickets to increase their productivity, served as the impetus for the audit. Following internal affairs investigations, two troopers received two-day suspensions, one trooper received a ten-day suspension, and the other two troopers retired before the inquiry was finished.

Since the UConn audit’s publication, the state police union has criticized it, claiming that it did not delve deeply enough to uncover the reasons behind the data mistakes.

“The union leadership feels vindicated” by the new report, said Andrew Matthews, the union’s executive director and a former trooper. He said the UConn audit “harmed the reputation of the agency unjustifiably and negatively impacted the trust the public has in law enforcement.”

The US Departments of Justice and Transportation are also looking at the ticket data.

One of the UConn analysts, Ken Barone, stated that the latest study essentially validates the audit’s conclusions from the previous year.

“We were very clear,” Barone said in a phone interview Thursday. “Our report said that there was a high likelihood that records were false or inaccurate, and we have not seen any information that has altered our conclusion. What we have seen is information that provides explanations for why some of the data may have been inaccurate.”

According to Lamont and Higgins, a number of measures have already been taken to guarantee that the data is entered appropriately, including the installation of computers in every police cruiser, supervisor and trooper training, and data audits.

Leave a Comment