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Report: Racial Disparity In Some Connecticut Traffic Stops

A report commissioned by the state of Connecticut and released Tuesday shows at least five police departments, Granby, Groton, Waterbury, and state police troops in Tolland and Hartford, are stopping Black and Hispanic drivers at unusually high rates.

Ken Barone, one of the authors of the report, says that doesn’t mean racial profiling is definitely going on there – just that there are “disparities” in how often those five departments stop Black and Hispanic drivers compared to everybody else.

“These disparities exist,” he said. “They’re significant. It could very well be because racial profiling is a factor, but without a formal and deeper-level investigation, we aren’t comfortable in drawing that conclusion.”

Barone says those communities stood out because Black and Hispanic drivers there were more likely to be pulled over during the day – a factor he calls the “veil of darkness.”

“So, during the time in which it is more likely that an officer could determine the race or ethnicity of an individual, when it’s light out, you’re more likely to be pulled over, as opposed to darkness,” he said.

Barone says an upcoming report will examine those five departments to find out if certain police officers are stopping Black or Hispanic drivers at higher rates. State police said if that next report finds problems with their individual state troopers in Tolland and Hartford, they’ll address those problems immediately. The Granby Police Department says it values the information the current report, and that it hasn’t heard any complaints from its residents.

Mike Lawlor, Governor Dannel Malloy’s criminal justice advisor, said these reports will help the state prevent racial profiling more than ever before.

“All this data is being collected, and I think that does affect people’s behavior,” Lawlor said. “So I would expect to see, as each year goes by in the future, that these disparities begin to shrink by a lot.”

Lawlor said this is the most comprehensive report of its kind in the country so far. The report examined traffic stop data from all state police barracks and every municipal police department except Stamford, which the report said had missing data.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.