Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-1230

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING TRAFFIC STOP INFORMATION.

Vote Date:

4/6/2011

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

4/4/2011

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

It has been reported that several portions of Connecticut General Statue 54-1l (Sen. Alvin Penn Act) are not being enforced. This bill is designed to direct stricter compliance and assigns the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division and the Criminal Justice Information System to develop a form and procedure and submit annual reports to comply with this law.

Substitute Language: The bill would only be enforced “within available appropriations”

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Mike Lawlor, Office of Policy and Management, Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division: Opposes this bill. The Governor's proposed budget does not provide the resources necessary to carry out this task and, therefore, the Office of Policy and Management does not support this bill. We support the current statute, 54-1m, which requires the collection of traffic stop information and we are willing to work with the General Assembly to enforce the current law.

Werner Oyanadel, Acting Executive Director, Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission: Supports this bill. The impact of favorable action on this bill would right a wrong that has been sanctioned for the past 11 years due to the lack of enforcement of the original Penn Act legislation on the part of the majority of Connecticut's Municipal Police Departments. Act. No 99-198, Alvin W. Penn Act, was made into law in 2000 and has been amended three times thus far to address some of the very same concerns being raised in this bill.

We are aware that this bill calls for the oversight of this enforcement language be re-directed to the Office of Policy and Management and the Criminal Justice Information System Governing Board. We are, however, respectfully requesting that a subsection be added to include the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission and the African American Affairs Commission be provided with a quarterly report of the findings by the Office of Policy and Management with regards to the reports received from the 169 cities and towns' police reports.

Glenn Cassis, Executive Director African-American Affairs Commission; Supports this bill. The reason the Commission decided to revisit the issue of racial profiling is that the current system for reporting traffic stop data is ineffective. Unfortunately without empirical data it is impossible to assess the extent of racial profiling in the state, whether it is fact or fiction. The original purpose of what was written into law as the Penn Act is not working for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to lack of resources, lack of standardization and the lack of an effective system for collecting, analyzing and reporting data. The Commission believes that a comprehensive approach to addressing and eliminating racial profiling in traffic stops must include: 1) a ban on the practice of racial Profiling, 2) the inclusion of a standardized and effective data collection system, 3) a mechanism for creating and implementing strategies to address racial profiling patterns that may be unearthed, 4) equally important is a true partnership between law enforcement and the community to mediate alleged complaints of racial profiling – an oversight committee, and 5) resources secured to conduct independent analysis and evaluation of traffic stop data.

Nakul Havnurkar, Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission: Supports this bill. While we support this bill, we believe that an equally important issue not addressed is the issue of changing strongly held perceptions in the minority community that police officers are influenced by the race/ethnicity of motorist during traffic stops. In my position as the legislative analyst for the APACC I've spoken to more than a few Sikh and Muslim Americans who feel that they've received unfair treatment by police officers because of their race. The issue here is that the collection and evaluation of data, in and of itself, does not address or defuse community perceptions and frustrations. Any legislation that seeks to address racial profiling needs to have significant and substantive input from the ethnic community to defuse community perceptions of racial profiling. We feel that this bill should include language that involves all the ethnic commissions in the reviewing of the data collected and in producing the annual report with recommendations on reducing racial profiling.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Pastor Briggitte P. Brown, MSW: Supports this bill. This bill will develop a form of reporting for all Ct. Police Departments which will eliminate or prevent racial profiling.

LaResse Harvey, Executive Director, Civic Trust Public Lobbying Company: Supports this bill. In 2009, Office of Police and Management Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division reported on Disproportionate Minority Contact Amongst Adolescents. What was discovered in this report is that Black and Latino juveniles are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. This same is possible for adults if we have the right information. This bill will make this possible.

Sandra Staub, American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut: Supports this bill. Racial profiling presents a great danger to the fundamental principles of our Constitution and is abhorrent and cannot be tolerated. This legislature meant to to do something about this serious issue in 1999 but we know now that the law needs to be improved in order to have its intended effect. This amendment provides a means to uncover the extent of the problem so that something can be done to eradicate the practice.

Andrea Wilson, Member of the Community Party: Supports this bill. The Community Party has been a part of the discussion of this amendment for some time and it was agreed by all sitting at the table ( including the commissions you have appointed):

1. the law needs to be strengthened

2. In order to really strengthen the law – an entity independent of law enforcement investigate racial profiling complaints.

3. that an oversight committee including at least two community stakeholders be established

4. In addition, the driver be given a traffic stop receipt which will provide a record of all traffic stops and provide citizens who believe that they have been profiled with a form of recourse which can be anonymous so as to protect the citizen.

The above recommendations would provide this state with the checks and balances needed to insure that the police departments who do comply are handing in accurate reports with regard to the race of the driver and that the driver has recourse available to them which does not force them to make a complaint with the risk of retaliation.

Chiefs of Police James Strillacci and Anthony Salvatore, Connecticut Police Chiefs Association: In the first two years of the current legislation, police dutifully collected the required data, and the Chief State's Attorney, assisted by OPM and CCSU, published detailed reports. Their conclusions were controversial (because no one knows what percentage of each demographic group violates laws and therefore should be stopped by police), but the statistics were useful.

Since responsibility was shifted to the African-American Affairs Commission, police sent data into a vacuum from which no reports were issued. Therefore we approve transfer of responsibility to OPM and the CJIS Board, who may be better equipped to handle it.

We don't object to data collection. But we caution that the bill's requirement to give the motorist a copy of the form will either require installation of printers in each cruiser(an unfunded mandate), or completion of duplicate paper forms (which will prolong each traffic stop, annoy the motorist and waste police time).

Scot X. Esdaile, Connecticut State Conference of NAACP Branches: Supports this bill.

Police departments throughout Connecticut are not using a standardized traffic stop form. This makes data collection nearly impossible. Currently there is no modern computerized system to analyze the forms. Less than half of the police departments in Connecticut submit reports consistently. African-Americans who believe that they are victims of unwarranted traffic stops cannot contest the actions of officials without fear of reprisals. Traffic stop data are kept by law enforcement and are not analyzed by an independent agency for patterns of racial bias. The state has not invested resources to enforce and maintain traffic stop data. For these reasons and more the Penn Law needs to be amended.

David Samuels, Community Party in Hartford; Supports this bill. Alvin Penn was a state senator who was racially profiled and pushed back by creating legislation to address this type of police abuse. A Department of Justice report finds that Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be searched, arrested and subjected to the use of force during traffic stops than whites. I'm asking the good residents of this state to stand with us and contact your legislator today and tell them that you support the Community Party's original version of the Penn Act amendment, which calls for an entity of independent law enforcement to investigate racial profiling complaints and that an oversight committee including at least two community stakeholders be established, in addition to the implementation of a traffic stop receipt which will provide a record of all traffic stops and provide citizens who believe that they have been profiled with a form of recourse.

Joe Adamaitis: Supports this bill. The writer shared an experience of when he and a friend were, lawfully, in a “rough part of town and we looked like two white kids from the suburbs the cops clearly profiled us as drug users”. They were pulled over and treated harshly and questioned about their presence in the area. Adamaitis felt that they were profiled for being white. If this bill is passed they would be required to give their information to people no matter what.

Daniel Malo, Hartford Community Party: Supports this bill. Racial profiling, being a chief concern of the North Hartford community that CP represents, I had the opportunity to work with the City of Hartford and other agencies in an effort to make the municipality compliant with State Statute. Racial profiling does occur in Connecticut (evidenced in monthly news coverage). Less than a third of Connecticut's police agencies are compliant with the law. Data collected since implementation has not been analyzed. Data collected exists in multiple formats, prohibiting ease of analysis (AAAC).

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Connecticut Conference of Municipalities: While CCM appreciates the intent behind this proposal, it would impose costly administrative burdens on town and cities during a period when there are layoffs of police officers.

CCM is unaware of any widespread problems with the current system, whereby municipalities adhere to local written polices governing traffic stops.

CCM urges the Committee to include a funding source to reimburse municipalities for costs associated with SB1230.

Reported by: George Marinelli

Date: April 11, 2011