Connecticut State Troopers Apparently Tried To Bury Biased Stop Data By Falsifying 26,000 Traffic Tickets
from the paying-top-dollar-for-fake-enforcement dept
Biased policing is just the way things are done. Decades of targeting minorities for being minorities has resulted in tons of garbage data now being used to justify “smarter” policing guided by AI that has been fed nothing but garbage.
Every so often, law enforcement agencies are forced to reckon with their racist brand of policing. Whether its litigation or brutal acts of violence that force lawmakers to take a closer look at the agencies they fund, the outcome is almost always the same: reform efforts ignored or undermined by law enforcement officers who would prefer to do the things they’ve always done.
But to keep the heat off your back, you have to at least pretend you’re trying to be less biased and more engaged with the communities you serve. The Connecticut State Police dealt with its own biased policing reckoning by deploying the “fake it until everyone no longer cares if you make it” process, as Connecticut Insider reports. (h/t Jalopnik)
Governor Ned Lamont said an investigation was being launched after a damning new audit found there is a “high likelihood” hundreds of Connecticut State Police troopers collectively falsified tens of thousands traffic ticket records over much of the past decade.
The report found there was a “high likelihood” at least 25,966 tickets were falsified between 2014 and 2021. Another 32,587 records over those years showed significant inaccuracies and auditors believe many of those are likely to be false as well.
If these numbers hold up, it would mean State Troopers falsified over 7,000 tickets a year — or more than 20 tickets a day. And the report [PDF] — compiled by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project — says nearly 400 troopers were complicit in this concerted attempt to fudge the numbers.
Despite the damning evidence, the state’s governor has decided he’d rather unruffle law enforcement feathers than condemn the agency for engaging in fraudulent behavior.
“I wouldn’t jump to conclusions,” said Lamont, who became governor in 2019, a few months after state police found four troopers had been fabricating tickets. “There’s no indication that was purposeful. A lot of it may have been inadvertent. We’ve got to look into that.”
Sure, if you ask a bent cop whether or not they willfully lied, they’re sure to tell you they just screwed up. If the governor wants to actually get to the bottom of this, he can’t allow the State Police to investigate itself, and he can’t allow troopers to “I don’t recall” their way out of this debacle.
The first step is to identify the troopers who, at this point, are still anonymous. And the governor, if he’s actually serious about ending this abuse, should have all the information he needs to go after the most problematic offices and troopers.
From the report:
Troop A: There are six towns within the boundaries of Troop A that employ constables. They include Bridgewater, New Fairfield, Oxford, Redding, Roxbury, and Southbury. During the combined audit period, constables within these six towns were above the average for overreported racial profiling records. Troop A constables exceeded the average ratio of overreported racial profiling records every year, except 2014. Although they had the largest ratio of overreported records, they had the third largest number of overreported records. The number of overreported racial profiling records by constables in Troop A is significant and we believe there is a pattern of falsifying records.
Troops C, F, and K had the largest number of discrepancies resulting in overreported records. Troop F had twice as many overreported records compared to the average troop. Troop K had 1.8 times more overreported records and Troop C had 1.5 times more overreported records. Troops B, D, E and L also had large discrepancies. Of these seven troops, four make up the entire Eastern District (Troops C, D, E, and K), Troop F is in the Central District, but borders the Eastern District, and Troops B and L are located in the Western District. Troop E’s discrepancy decreased markedly in 2019, which appears to correlate with the internal investigation into the troop.
We have a high degree of confidence based on the data analysis that there was a pattern and practice of submitting false and inaccurate records to the racial profiling database in these seven troops, but especially in Troops C, F, and K.
Of the 1,301 troopers we audited, 311 had a statistically significant number of discrepancies in at least one year of the audit. […] We determined that the trooper with the largest discrepancy had 1,350 infraction records that were likely false and inaccurate submitted between 2014 and 2017.
Not only does this narrow down the list of potential investigation targets, the governor can also eliminate troopers who’ve already been exposed as purveyors of false traffic citations.
According to internal records, supervisors believed entering fake tickets may have, at times, involved inputted phony demographic information that departments are required to collect under a state law aimed at identifying and ultimately preventing racial profiling by police officers conducting traffic stops. One of the troopers said he did not enter fabricated demographic data.
Mellekas said he does not believe the department’s racial profiling data was impacted. “They could not have skewed that,” he said.
Still, Mellekas insisted that no drivers were actually issued fake tickets; officers only entered phony ticket data into state police computers, he said.
“It’s not fictitious tickets, It’s fictitious reporting of tickets. It was a falsifying of statistics … it was numbers and statistics.”
Those are the words of the head of the State Police, Colonel Stavros Mellekas. According to him, this misconduct (which was exposed last summer) is ultimately meaningless. All it did was waste taxpayer money. It did not subject taxpayers to bogus citations.
As if that makes anything better. These are officers paid to enforce the law who chose to falsify tickets to boost their own stats and (possibly) obscure biased policing efforts. That doesn’t make it excusable. Making it worse is the fact that the troopers who faked their work while on the clock either avoided serious disciplinary action (a 10-day suspension was the worst of it) or yanked the cord on taxpayer-funded parachutes, gliding into $70,000/year retirement packages rather than deal with consequences of their actions.
Possibly, at some point in the future, these discrepancies will be enumerated. Possibly. But the most likely outcome is this all gets swept under the sands of time until the next State Police scandal rears its ugly head. An honest politician would want to tear the lid off this scandal and expose everyone involved to the harshest disinfectant of all: sunlight. But it appears both the governor and the State Police would rather just issue enough meaningful-sounding statements to survive the current news cycle.