Connecticut police officers do not pull over black and Hispanic drivers because of their race, an unprecedented study on traffic stops reported this week.
While other states have been embroiled in complaints of racial profiling, the study argues that the problem is not severe here, and Chief State’s Attorney John M. Bailey, who released the study, pointed to the success of the two-year-old law that formally outlawed the practice.
The report, written by Stephen Cox, a criminology professor at Central Connecticut State University, studied 316,000 traffic stops in the state. White citizens compose 87 percent of the state’s population, and during the first half of last year 84 percent of the drivers pulled over were white.
In comparison, 12 percent of the drivers pulled over in the same period were black. Blacks make up 8.5 percent of the state population. Hispanics comprise 6.5 percent of the population, but 8.5 percent of the pulled-over drivers.
Currently, Connecticut and North Carolina are the only states to have outlawed profiling. Bailey said he believes such laws will become a national trend in the near future.
“We’re the first state to do this,” he said. “We’ve already gotten calls from 17 other states asking how we did it and how we’re going to do the analysis.
“Just bringing racial profiling to the forefront decreases it. It is a key issue in this country, and it needs to be addressed.”
This study is not, however, conclusive because the study used 10-year-old census data. It was based on police officers’ self-reports giving the reasons for pulling over drivers.
Since then, the Hispanic population in Connecticut has increased by 30 percent while the black population has increased by 8 percent.
Some are skeptical of these results, claiming that the numbers do not seem to reflect reality.
“Obviously, I am not in full concurrence,” state Sen. Alvin Penn told the Associated Press. “[My constituents] would probably run me out of town or think I had turned on them or I was part of some fix, based upon their own private experiences.”
Penn, who is black, was pulled over by police in Trumbull two years ago. Soon after, he drafted the anti-profiling bill, which was strongly supported by the state Legislature.
In the near future, a new study will be conducted, using more recent traffic stop cases, as well as 2000 census data.
Bailey also plans to have an organization that is not involved with the police conduct the study, so as to eliminate bias.