An audit by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project showed that the Hartford Police Department neglected to report thousands of traffic stops last year as was required by law.
Connecticut’s anti-racial profiling law requires police departments to collect data on all traffic stops -- things like the race and ethnicity of the driver, the time of day the stop occurred, and the reason why they were stopped.
That information is analyzed by Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy, or IMRP, for signs of racial profiling.
Most police departments in Connecticut log the details of a traffic stop electronically at the scene.
Only seven departments, including Hartford, file paper forms. Those forms are then entered manually by a records clerk into the statewide system.
An audit by the IMRP revealed that Hartford submitted 2,027 traffic stop reports between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016. But the department said it made close to 7,000 stops, blaming the discrepancy on computer error. A look at dispatch records show the department made 6,542 stops.
Ken Barone, Policy and Research Specialist for IMRP, said things got even more confusing once his researchers tried to match details on the paper forms with the same record entered into the statewide system.
"In some cases, the race on the form is different from the race entered into the system. In some cases, it was the gender," Barone said. "In some cases, it was the age. In some cases, it was the residency. In some cases, the form indicated the driver was searched, and the state portal didn't indicate the driver was searched. So what that did was call into question all the data that was submitted by Hartford PD."
Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley admitted to data collecting problems in the past, but said the department has solved the issue.
Police now record traffic stops electronically on their laptop at the scene. If a laptop is unavailable, officers will still file a paper form, but now their supervisor will require that the form be turned in at the end of their shift. Foley says the department will transition to a new records management system within the year that will electronically send traffic stop data to IMRP directly.