Gov. Ned Lamont has tapped former United States District Attorney Deirdre M. Daly to investigate a fake ticketing scandal in the Connecticut State Police brought to light by Hearst Media in 2022 and a recent audit report by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project (CTRP3) at the University of Connecticut.
The audit, which examined traffic stop data from 2014 through 2021 found troopers overreported roughly 26,000 citations, mostly for white drivers, and underreported roughly 16,000 records for mostly Hispanic and non-white drivers.
Although actual tickets were not issued to drivers, the false reports likely skewed Connecticut’s racial profiling data.
“Based on the analysis, we have a high level of confidence that false and inaccurate records were submitted to the racial profiling database,” the authors of the audit Ken Barone and Matthew B. Ross, Ph.D.
Barone and Ross wrote that they could not identify a motivation for submitting fake infraction records and indicated that a formal investigation would be required to determine if there was any wrongdoing — something Lamont has now authorized.
“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 said in a 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, why it happened, and how to prevent it from ever happening again.”
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) Commissioner James Rovella and State Police Colonel Stavros Mellekas said the investigation was necessary to build and maintain trust in Connecticut’s State Police and troopers have been instructed to cooperate with Daly’s investigation.
“I have issued an order today to all state troopers instructing them to cooperate with the investigation and come forth with relevant information,” Mellekas said. “The Connecticut State Police takes this matter very seriously and we have already instituted several reforms based on the recently released audit. We look forward to continuing that work. We welcome this investigation and will cooperate fully.”
The audit showed declining numbers of over-reported and under-reported infractions between 2014 and 2021, but the practice appears to have continued. At least one trooper, who listed over 1,000 ticketed drivers as Native American, has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation.
According to a press release from DESPP on June 28, 2023, Internal Affairs in 2018 investigated four troopers suspected of false data reporting. Two of state troopers separated from service pending the investigation and two were disciplined for false data reporting.
DESPP wrote that further investigation is required following the latest audit to determine the cause of the false data, saying that technology and training issues might account for inaccurate data and data discrepancies, rather than intentional falsification.
The investigation is expected to take three to six months to complete, according to the governor’s office, and the investigation’s recommendations will reportedly augment the recommendations made by the auditors, which DESPP says they have begun to implement.
Those recommendations include reinforcing to troopers the serious consequences of falsified data, more timely supervisory review of traffic stops, providing clear guidance on proper reporting and consideration of an annual audit by CTRP3.