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Report: Minority drivers stopped at disproportionate rates

A new report says black and Hispanic drivers in Connecticut continue to be stopped by police at disproportionately high rates and are treated more harshly than whites in many cases after being pulled over.

The report prepared by analysts at Central Connecticut State University was released Tuesday. It examined about 542,000 traffic stops made by state and local police officers in 2017.  About 16% of drivers stopped were black, while 9% of the state's driving age population is black. Hispanics comprised about 14% of motorists stopped and about 12% of the driving age population.

43% of drivers stopped in Connecticut received an infraction ticket, while 50% received either a written or verbal warning.  Danbury issued infraction tickets in 64% of all traffic stops, which is the highest in the state.  Weston only issued infraction tickets in 3.3% of all traffic stops, which is the lowest rate in the state.

The level of and reason for traffic stop enforcement varies greatly.  Law enforcement agencies with active traffic units produce a higher volume of traffic stops.  The five municipal police agencies with the highest stop rate per 1,000 residents are Wilton, New Canaan, Westport, Ridgefield, and Windsor. Conversely, Middlebury, Wolcott, Shelton, Bridgeport and Meriden have the lowest rate of stops per 1,000 residents.

In Ledyard, Ridgefield, Weston, Simsbury, Thomaston, Enfield, Guilford, Easton, Suffield, Newtown, Windsor Locks, Wolcott, New Milford, Redding, Bethel, and Southington, more than 50% of the traffic stops were for speeding violations. On the other hand, Eastern Connecticut State University, Orange, Yale University, the State Capitol Police and Western Connecticut State University stopped drivers for speeding less than 5% of the time. The four special police agencies (Yale, WCSU, ECSU, and State Capitol Police) have limited jurisdiction and it is reasonable that they are not stopping a high percentage of drivers for speeding violations.

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