HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Hundreds of Connecticut state troopers falsified information on at least 26,000 traffic stops between 2014 and 2021, distorting reports about the race and ethnicity of stopped motorists, according to an audit. posted on wednesday.
Data analysts at the University of Connecticut said the reports resulted in too many drivers being identified as white. However, they cautioned that they did not attempt to determine whether the records were intentionally falsified or in error due to carelessness or human error.
Gov. Ned Lamont said he has referred the matter to the state attorney general’s office for investigation and urged the public not to jump to conclusions.
“There is no indication that it served a purpose,” he said at an unrelated news conference on Wednesday. “A lot of this may have been unintentional.”
The audit was prompted by a Hearst Connecticut Media report last year that said four state troopers at an eastern Connecticut police station intentionally created hundreds of bogus traffic tickets to boost their productivity numbers. After internal affairs investigations, one police officer was suspended for 10 days, another was suspended for two days, and the other two retired before the investigation was complete.
The audit found that the number of traffic violations reported to the Connecticut Racial Profiling Ban Project advisory board did not match those reported to the state court system, which handles all traffic citations, according to analysts with the Municipal Policy Institute and Regional at the University of Connecticut.
Analysts “have a high level of confidence that at least 25,966 violation records were falsified and submitted to racial profiling systems,” the report said. The audit said the number of falsified violation records could be as high as 58,553, if certain criteria were included. Analysts reviewed more than 800,000 violation issues during the seven-year period.
“We’re talking about … a pattern of having records where you can’t find a corresponding record in the court system,” said Ken Barone, one of the UConn analysts. “If he claimed that he stopped a car and issued a ticket, there should be a ticket.”
Lamont and the analysts noted that the number of discrepancies between state police data and court system data has decreased in recent years. The report said that most of the discrepancies occurred in 2014.
Analysts said they audited traffic stop data submitted by about 1,300 police officers, and 311 of them had a “statistically significant number of discrepancies” for at least a year.
The Connecticut American Civil Liberties Union called the audit findings troubling.
“This audit reveals a shocking disrespect for the state’s racial profiling ban law by Connecticut State Police employees and, worse still, for that law’s goal of reducing systemic racism in the community. police,” said Claudine Constant, director of public policy and advocacy for the group.
“Whether intentional or not, the impact of police falsifying and misreporting records is the same: Police have withheld the true information about how often drivers of color are stopped compared to white drivers,” he said in a statement.
State police said in a statement Wednesday that the agency does not tolerate false reports and has been working with the UConn institute to prevent them.
“The State Police is deeply committed to ensuring the integrity of Connecticut’s racial profiling data and maintaining the public’s trust in the essential public safety services our soldiers provide every day,” the statement said.
Police across the state, including local departments, are required to submit traffic stop data to the state under a 1999 Connecticut law intended to prevent racial profiling. The UConn Institute analyzes the data and submits regular reports, which have shown that officers disproportionately stopped Black and Hispanic drivers compared to white motorists.
The institute said Wednesday that the integrity of those analyzes was in question because the falsified records “were more likely to be reported as white drivers and less likely to be reported as black or Hispanic drivers.”
The audit also found that some state police data was not reported to the racial profiling board, and those records were more likely to involve Hispanic drivers.
Falsified police data is nothing new.
In 2010, for example, several New York City officers faced internal charges based on allegations by a fellow officer that they tampered with crime statistics. In Texas, state troopers were found to be incorrectly recording the race of minority drivers, according to a 2015 KXAN-TV report.
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