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Troopers in Connecticut may have fabricated thousands of traffic tickets supposedly issued to white drivers to skew racial profiling data, prompting DOJ investigation

  The Department of Justice has now launched an investigation into allegations that troopers with the Connecticut State Police may have fals...

 The Department of Justice has now launched an investigation into allegations that troopers with the Connecticut State Police may have falsified traffic records to skew racial profiling data.

In June, the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project released a report that suggested that at least 25,000, but perhaps as many as 58,000, traffic tickets had been reported to the racial profiling database but had never been reported to the Centralized Infractions Bureau, the department which actually processes traffic tickets. The report also indicated that the majority of likely falsified traffic stops supposedly involved white drivers while traffic stops involving black or Hispanic drivers went underreported.

"The records we believe were not valid — and there’s a high likelihood that they could be false — were more likely to be white," asserted Ken Barone, associate director of the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at the University of Connecticut and one of the authors of the report. 

State Police Colonel Stavros Mellekas later clarified that no driver, regardless of race, was ever issued a "fake ticket." Instead, as Jaden Edison of CT Mirror explained, "Troopers and constables were making up traffic stops that didn’t happen and making up demographic information for the profiling system." 

The report — the result of an audit initiated after four troopers were suspected of falsifying records for better pay and other benefits in 2018 — examined data collected from more than 1,300 troopers between 2014 and 2021. The authors of the report stopped short of accusing any trooper of intentional "wrongdoing" and noted that some of the discrepancies could have resulted from human error, technological issues, or poor training.

"Identifying statistically significant discrepancies can be evidence of wrongdoing but a formal investigation would need to confirm that, and that is beyond the scope of our audit," the authors said in the report.

Audit finds fake traffic tickets written by Connecticut state

Outrage regarding the report then prompted intervention from state leaders, and chief state’s attorney Patrick Griffin launched an investigation at the behest of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont. Last week, the DOJ announced that it had asked Griffin to suspend his office's investigation and to give way to an independent federal investigation. Griffin agreed, noting that the DOJ has better "tools and resources" for such investigations.

"If people need to be held accountable, either in federal court or in state court, we’ll do that," Griffin said.

So far, the four troopers whose alleged actions motivated the initial audit have already been held to some account. Two of them received brief suspensions. Two others retired before the conclusion of the internal affairs inquiry. The state has also opened a criminal investigation into the four men.

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