On the eve of the latest report into traffic stops and racial profiling in the state, The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association released a peer-reviewed study that questions the report's methodology.
The association said they sought the peer review of the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy report because of what they describe as "increased tensions with our communities as a result of what may be inaccurate analysis.”
“We don't just want to take the IMPR report at face value, we want to look at it holistically,” said Groton Police Chief L.J. Fusaro. “We found other people that know this material, and have been subject matter experts for some time so they can provide us that feedback.”
The peer review included input from three expert researchers - Jeffrey Grogger, Professor of Urban Policy at the University of Chicago; Michael R. Smith, Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at San Antonio; and Edward R. Maguire, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University.
Each researcher in their peer review praised the IMRP for its research, but did find find varying degrees of problems with their data. Ken Barone, Policy and Research specialist for the IMRP said as far a peer reviews go, it could have been worse.
“Peer reviews are by nature designed to be harsh, but they were fairly positive,” said Barone. “What I took away from it was that we're on the right track. I took away from it that there is areas we can improve upon.”
One researcher questioned why IMRP doesn't use traffic crash data. Ken Barone said he'd love to use traffic crash data, but there's a problem.
“Today they come out with a peer review that says you should be using accident data as a way to create a benchmark or a methodology. Meanwhile, five years ago when we tried to do that, they were the group that opposed it, and ultimately they won.”
Barone is also upset with the timing of this intervention - The Police Chiefs Association sat on their report for two months according to Barone, but chose to release it the night before the IMRP's third year report.
“If they would have shared the peer review with us two months ago, we could have incorporated some of their ideas in our report,” Barone said.
The CPCA said they only got approval from their board to present the report earlier in the week.
The association says because of the peer review report, they have reservations about the validity of the IMRP's first two years of data. But Chief John Gavallas, president of the association said another benefit of the report is to help the IMRP do their job better.
“Well, certainly we hope that it will enhance their work, and of everything I heard today, I didn't hear anything about any department that was racial profiling motorists -- there is no definitive evidence of that,” said Gavallas.