Zoe Berg

A private investigation into the Connecticut State Police found that the department falsified tens of thousands of traffic tickets over a seven-year period. 

Now, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is taking action.

In July, Lamont appointed former federal prosecutor Diedre Daly to lead an independent investigation into the alleged ticket falsification. The scandal was uncovered after a 2022 Hearst Connecticut Media Group investigation first exposed internal documents at a Montville, Connecticut police station that showed supervisors knew about hundreds of falsified tickets in 2018 but did not take measures to discipline the officers responsible. 

Separately, a private investigation this past June found that officers were underreporting the number of drivers they stopped that were either a Black or non-white Hispanic person — prompting broader concerns about potential racial profiling.

“I have ordered a comprehensive and independent investigation of possible misconduct by the Connecticut State Police based on the information brought to light by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project,” Lamont wrote in a July press release. “I have great faith in the overwhelming majority of our troopers, and to protect public confidence in them we must get to the bottom of this and learn how it happened.”

Thousands of fake tickets prompt inquiry into underreporting of Black and non-white Hispanic drivers pulled over

Hearst’s reporting found that four officers — Kevin Moore, Daniel Richter, Timothy Bentley and Noah Gouveia — falsely reported that they had issued 600 tickets throughout their patrolling region in Montville from January to September 2018. The ticket records were managed by a department supervisor who noticed that they did not correlate with dash camera footage of the same traffic stops. 

Hearst’s investigation revealed that department heads, instead of properly acknowledging the fabricated reports, buried them from public scrutiny and did not implement internal reforms.

The department then gave Moore and Richter a 10-day and two-day suspension, respectively, while Bentley and Gouveia retired before supervisors implemented any disciplinary measures against them. 

When Ken Barone, head of the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, first read the Montville case, he said he thought that it could not be an isolated incident. 

“We had seen enough,” Barone told the News. “Four people were found to have falsified racial profiling records and we found eleven other people who were never investigated.

Barone oversaw an investigation that audited thousands of state traffic stop tickets from 2014 to 2021 and concluded their report in June 2023. The project was a collaboration between the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project and the University of Connecticut’s Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy. 

The larger report declared with a “high degree of confidence” that 300 of 1,300 troopers submitted false reports for over 26,000 traffic stop incidents. Data analysts estimate that the true figure could fall at around 58,000 false reports. 

The Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project’s investigation also revealed that officers who had issued legitimate tickets failed to enter the information into the state’s racial profiling system. This violates a 2013 Connecticut law that mandates that officers must enter a driver’s race and ethnicity, among other identifying factors, when making a traffic stop.

 The investigation found that officers significantly underreported race and ethnicity when a driver was either a Black or non-white Hispanic person. The Project concluded that this was likely an attempt to counterbalance the disproportionate rate at which state troopers pull over Black and non-white Hispanic drivers. Failure to record racial profiling data when making a stop could, according to the same 2013 law, result in a department losing state funding. 

Experts, police offer differing explanations 

Kenneth Gray, University of New Haven professor and former FBI agent, suggested that state troopers may feel incentivized to overrepresent their traffic tickets to boost their departmental evaluations. While Connecticut law prohibits the use of ticket quotas, officials are allowed to use traffic ticket data “in the evaluation of an individual’s work performance.” 

“My speculation is that if you show that you’re being very active in traffic violations, then you’re going to get rewards for that,” Gray said. “You may get a better car. You may get a better shift. You may get promotions.” 

At the federal level, both the Department of Justice and the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation are investigating the ticket scandal.

Punishments levied against those responsible for mass-scale falsifications could include charges of fraud or being included on the Brady List, a record of police misconduct that bars officers from participating in future trials, working certain shifts or conducting other duties, Barone and Gray speculated. Both said that the officers involved in the scandal will likely face questions about their credibility in future trials.

“By falsifying data, it calls into question everything that those troopers have done,” Gray told the News. “There’s the potential here that previous criminal violations that a trooper was responsible for investigating may be reopened because of the police officers’ lies. If you lie about this, what else would you lie about?” 

One month ago, the lawyer representing a Connecticut man charged with murder filed a court motion requesting to know whether the officers involved in the murder investigation were also involved in the false ticketing scandal. 

The scandal’s pervasiveness encouraged Lamont to seek a secondary independent investigation into the state’s ticket-issuing history. 

“Daly’s investigation into this is for the governor, to let him know what the problems are,” Gray said. “I’m sure there will be changes to come about from the governor’s office because of this.” 

During a press conference in July, former Connecticut State Police Union president Andrew Matthews argued that both the falsifications of tickets and the failure to input racial profiling data stemmed from a lack of technology in officers’ vehicles. 

He claimed that one-third of the department still did not have the proper technology in their assigned cars to enter the information about traffic stops themselves. 

Matthews said that instead, officers often called traffic stop records into dispatchers. Miscommunication between officers and dispatchers, he implied, could explain the ticket inaccuracies. 

Barone doubted Matthews’s explanation. He described how in the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project’s study, the team allowed state police troopers to make up to 12 mistakes — including an incorrect date, badge number or age of the driver –– in a single record and still count it as a match. Only on the 13th mistake was a ticket marked as falsified.  

Barone believes both racial profiling inaccuracies and ticket falsifications resulted from intentional police misconduct. As reports uncover new findings in the scandal, Barone said he wonders how much misconduct may pervade other areas of Connecticut policing. 

“If you falsified this many ticket records, you may have also falsified a large number of stops that only resulted in a warning,” he said. “Internally, the department needs reform so that they’re capable of holding themselves accountable and that may not come until outside entities implement those reforms.” 

In a statement in July, Stavros Malka, a Connecticut State Police colonel, said he welcomed Daly’s investigation and said that the department had already implemented changes in light of the audit, though he did not specify what changes the department had made. 

Daly’s newly formed investigation team said in a statement that they would release their findings in the next three to six months. 

Connecticut State Police issued 800,000 tickets from 2014 to 2021.