As my colleagues Chris Keating and Daniela Altimari report, the Connecticut House of Representatives today overwhelming approved changes to the state’s racial-profiling law, to make sure data is collected during police stops and to make sure it gets analyzed.
The Alvin W. Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act was first passed in 1999 in an effort to amass data that would indicate whether certain police officers or agencies were mistreating motorists on the basis of race or ethnicity. But most departments don’t report their data to the state, and the African-American Affairs Commission, which under the current law is responsible for analyzing the data, has for years said it lacks the funding to do so.
Earlier this year, the Courant obtained data on more than 100,000 traffic stops reported by police departments, and an analysis of that data showed that black and Hispanic motorists were significantly more likely to receive a ticket or court summons during a motor-vehicle stop, compared to white motorists pulled over for the same violation. Proponents of the bill said the analysis put hard numbers behind their longstanding belief that black and Hispanic motorists face harsher treatment when pulled over. Critics said the analysis merely revealed flaws in the data-collection system the state has used for the past decade.
Under the revisions approved today, the Office of Policy and Management will develop a standardized form to be used during police stops, and OPM will also take over responsibility for analyzing and reporting on the data. The racial-profiling bill now goes to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has said he will sign it.