Following a federal investigation into civil rights violations by the East Haven Police Department, Connecticut legislators are calling for better enforcement of state racial profiling laws. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports.
According to the Connecticut Racial Profiling Act, all police departments must report traffic stop data to the state every year. That includes information on the racial identity of who’s being pulled over. But only 27 departments have been submitting regular reports since the law passed in 1999. And, the Connecticut General Assembly has never set aside any money to enforce it. Now, state representative Kelvin Roldan wants the law fully funded. He spoke out alongside other Latino legislators and activists in Hartford on Wednesday morning.
“We need to protect the basic rights of our residents, and all we ask is that the executive branch enforces the law," Roldan said.
Police departments have complained they don’t have the resources to collect and report data on traffic stops, and that there’s no state-wide form they can use. And the African American Affairs Commission, which is supposed to analyze the reports for racial profiling, doesn’t have the resources to do that either.
“We have to ask ourselves now, do we know if it’s happening elsewhere in this state at this current time?" said state senator John Fonfara. "And if that is happening and we need a justice department investigation to uncover it and to inform us of that, then we need to do our job better. And that is what we will do in this coming session.”
Roldan wants the legislature to appropriate half a million dollars to fund the law in the coming year, and thinks it will cost around $200-$300,000 annually after that. In a statement, Governor Dannel Malloy says federal funding may be available.