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Investigation finds ‘significant failures’ by CT State Police regarding racial profiling data

Police vehicles pulling over a suspect.
Douglas Sacha
/
Moment RF / Getty Images
Police vehicles pulling over a suspect.

An independent investigation finds there have been “significant failures” by the Connecticut State Police regarding the reporting of racial profiling data.

The report, ordered by Gov. Ned Lamont and released Thursday morning, also concludes there was a failure to respond effectively to known state trooper falsification of traffic stop data in 2018, as well as a failure to address information that indicated potentially broader problems with the accuracy of racial profiling data.

The report points to deficient data-entry practices and deficient training, rather than intentional falsification of traffic stop data.

The investigation follows an audit in 2023 that showed troopers allegedly falsified information on at least 26,000 traffic stops from 2014 to 2021. In that earlier report, auditors said the alleged false data was more likely to identify motorists as white, which skewed the race and ethnicity data collected to compile statewide reports.

The investigation determined that the scope of the intentional falsification of records was "far more limited" than suggested by that earlier audit.

The investigation also found that 74 of 81 active troopers and constables identified in the earlier audit were not likely to have engaged in intentional misconduct. The investigation found no evidence that any trooper or constable intended to skew racial profiling data or conceal their own racial profiling.

Six state troopers and one constable have been referred to State Police’s internal affairs division for potential falsification of data, said Ronnell Higgins, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

“The fact that even one trooper ... has been referred to internal affairs investigation for potential falsification of traffic stop data is troubling to me,” Higgins told reporters Thursday afternoon. “And it's troubling to all the troopers who are out there doing their work each and every day. I won't tolerate it. It's as simple as that.”

Lamont told reporters that he wants to "make sure that this never happens again."
But he said he has "as much confidence" in the State Police that he's ever had.

"I think this shows that if there were problems, they were almost all unintentional," Lamont said. "And we're going to do everything we can to support our State Police, starting with IT and the guidance, the training, they need to make sure they have the tools they need to get the job done."

Among the investigation’s findings:

  • In fall 2018, State Police leadership learned that four troopers falsified records “in order to, at bottom, appear more active or ‘productive’ to their supervisors.” State Police leadership launched an internal audit and analysis that revealed potentially broader inaccuracies in the data.
  • State Police leadership “failed to respond effectively” to the misconduct or to the indications of potentially broader problems with the accuracy of the data.

State Police leaders involved in the incident have retired.

“The failures demonstrate inadequate leadership, judgment, and initiative,” the report concludes.

The failures "demonstrate a need for current CSP leadership to demonstrate and encourage cultural change within the CSP to prioritize transparency and diligent self-evaluation in response to indications of potential problems or misconduct,” the report said.

The investigation “identified serious failures” by State Police that allowed "deficient data-entry practices to develop and persist,” the report finds.

“An effective, transparent response to the misconduct identified in 2018 and indications of more systemic problems with the accuracy of [State Police’s racial profiling data] could have significantly improved” the department’s compliance with a state law.

The independent investigation was conducted by the law firm of Finn Dixon and Herling LLP and led by Deidre Daly, former United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

Lamont's office says it has forwarded the report to legislative leaders and the leadership of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection for their review.

The report has been posted online for the public to review.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This is a developing story.

Jennifer Ahrens is a producer for Morning Edition. She spent 20+ years producing TV shows for CNN and ESPN. She joined Connecticut Public Media because it lets her report on her two passions, nature and animals.
Eric Aasen is executive editor at Connecticut Public, the statewide NPR and PBS service. He leads the newsroom, including editors, reporters, producers and newscasters, and oversees all local news, including radio, digital and television platforms. Eric joined Connecticut Public in 2022 from KERA, the NPR/PBS member station in Dallas-Fort Worth, where he served as managing editor and digital news editor. He's directed coverage of several breaking news events and edited and shaped a variety of award-winning broadcast and digital stories. In 2023, Connecticut Public earned a national Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage that explored 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, as well as five regional Murrow Awards, including Overall Excellence. In 2015, Eric was part of a KERA team that won a national Online Journalism Award. In 2017, KERA earned a station-record eight regional Murrow Awards, including Overall Excellence. Eric joined KERA after more than a decade as a reporter at The Dallas Morning News. A Minnesota native, Eric has wanted to be a journalist since he was in the third grade. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from DePauw University in Indiana, where he earned a political science degree. He and his wife, a Connecticut native, have a daughter and a son, as well as a dog and three cats.