Bill Enhances Racial Profiling Law

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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More police officers would report information about the people they pull over under a bill that's headed to Governor Dannel P. Malloy.

The bill cleared the House of Representatives on Thursday, May 23 in a unanimous vote after gaining Senate approval the previous week. It's aimed at preventing police from racially profiling drivers and helping the state determine whether police are pulling over people based on race.

The bill updates a law passed last year that changed how police record and report information about every driver they pull over. That law takes effect in July, and police departments have until October 1 to implement the new rules.

Under the law, police must record the race, age, and gender of each driver; the reason for the stop; and whether it ended in a ticket or warning. Police also must notify the driver of how to file a racial profiling complaint — an issue that has raised concern in recent weeks.

The bill that cleared the House would make some changes to last year's law. It would expand the types of police departments that must record the data to include college campus police officers and police for state agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Current law limits the recording to state troopers and municipal police.

The bill also would require departments to forward the traffic stop information to the state each month. And it would excuse officers from recording the data if they're called away to an emergency.

The Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project Advisory Board recommended the changes. Rep. Gerald M. Fox III, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the aim is to make police think about whom they're pulling over.

"It would certainly bring about an awareness among the police," Fox said. "It would allow us to gather information and hopefully find that … especially those stops that may be a subject of racial profiling, are diminishing as time goes on."

Police have raised concerns about a requirement enacted last year that police offer notice to drivers of how to file a racial profiling complaint starting October 1. That information eventually will be included on the back of the ticket, officials said.

For stops that end in a warning, or when the ticket doesn't include the information, police will give a driver a separate piece of paper that contains other information — such as drunken-driving, distracted driving, or seat belt laws — in addition to the information on filing a complaint.•

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