Racial profiling report says Trumbull police stopped minority drivers 38% of time
Traffic stops totaling 600,000, nine municipal police departments, two state police troops, and a half-decade of census projections — that’s what the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project collected and analyzed to make a 2014-15 traffic data report that was released last Thursday, May 12.
The report, toward which the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University also contributed and which includes 12 months of traffic stop data from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015, cites the Trumbull Police Department for possible racial discrimination.
The Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, which looks for discrepancies between the percentage of ethnic minorities among those stopped by police and the percentage of the entire town population, reported that Trumbull police stopped minority drivers 38% of the time, despite the fact that minorities represent just 10% of the town’s population.
A breakdown of different minority groups showed that 15% of drivers Trumbull police stopped were Hispanic and 17% were black.
The results, according to 2014 projections based on the 2010 U.S. census, said Trumbull was among six departments that exceeded the disparity threshold in at least two of the three benchmark areas as well as in a majority of the nine possible measures.
Those departments include Wethersfield (47.42%), Stratford (52.93%), Meriden (50.5%), New Britain (60.21%), and Newington (39.5), as well as Trumbull (38.35%).
“In addition to these six departments, 42 others were identified with racial and ethnic disparities for at least one of the nine possible measures in the three benchmarks,” the report said. “While the results for these 42 departments do not warrant further assessment of their data at this time, it would be beneficial for departments with smaller disparities to evaluate their own data to better understand any relevant patterns.”
When asked for a comment, a Trumbull police spokesman said the department wasn’t convinced by the data presented in the 400-page report.
“The Trumbull Police Department welcomes the opportunity to work with the Institute for
Municipal and Regional Policy as they conduct their follow-up analysis,” said Trumbull police Lt. Leonard Scinto. “We are not convinced that the percentages used as comparative data of our estimated driving population is accurately representative of the driving population in Trumbull. “We look forward to working with the institute to ensure continued fair and impartial policing,” he added.
A closer look
The data collected over the first year has warranted a closer look from the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project for nine municipal departments and one state police troop, including
Bloomfield, Meriden, New Milford, Newington, Norwalk, Trumbull, West Hartford, Wethersfield, Windsor, and Troop H.
“New Britain, Stratford, Wethersfield and Troop H were identified last year and an in-depth follow-up analysis of the first year data that led to that identification is presented in Part II of this report,” the report explained, identifying that Trumbull and Norwalk would be further profiled.
“Based on the results of that analysis and our further understanding of traffic stop enforcement in New Britain and Stratford, we do not believe a full follow-up analysis is necessary.
“However, we will conduct a limited analysis to verify our previous conclusions with regard to these two municipalities,” the report said. “Although a follow-up analysis was conducted for Wethersfield and Troop H based on Year 1 data, additional disparities were identified in Year 2 that warrant another full analysis.”
African American drivers
The authors of the report applied nine different measures or tests to analyze the collected data, including the reasons police gave in stopping motorists and the proportion of day and night stops. A lower percentage of minority stops at night, when a driver’s ethnicity would be harder to detect, could highlight a propensity toward racial profiling.
One aspect of the report where Trumbull was above the state average was in African American drivers who were stopped.
For the study period from October 1, 2014, through September 30, 2015, the statewide percentage of drivers stopped by police who were identified as black was 14.1%.
“A total of 36 departments stopped a higher percentage of black drivers than the state average, 13 of which exceeded the statewide average by more than 10 percentage points,” the report explained.
Ten towns exceeded the statewide average by very small margins (1.5% points or less). The statewide average for black residents (age 16 and older) is 9.1%, according to the report, and of the 36 towns that exceeded the statewide average for black drivers stopped, 21 also have African American resident populations (16 and older) that exceeded the statewide average.
“After the stop and resident population percentages were adjusted using the method described above, a total of five towns were found to have a relative distance between their net black driver stop percentage and net black population percentage of more than 10 points,” the report said.
“These towns were Woodbridge, Stratford, Trumbull, Orange and Wethersfield. …
“Each of the five towns has at least one contiguous town with a resident black population that exceeds the state average. Stratford and Trumbull border Bridgeport; Woodbridge borders three such towns (New Haven, Hamden, and Ansonia); Wethersfield borders Hartford and East Hartford; and Orange borders New Haven and West Haven,” the report explained. “In four of the five towns — Woodbridge, Trumbull, Orange and Wethersfield-— more than 90% of the black drivers who were stopped were not residents of the town.”
The statewide average for stopped black drivers who were not residents of the town in which they were stopped was 59.81%.