Saturday, September 9, 2023 12:54
Middletown, Connecticut— A judge has rejected a request from the Connecticut State Police Union to temporarily keep under wraps the names of 130 state troopers under investigation for allegedly logging false traffic stops, but said they will be given another chance.
Police are under investigation after an audit found thousands of traffic stops that may have never occurred, making it appear they were stopping and citing more drivers than they actually were.
Middletown Superior Court Judge Rupal Shah dismissed the union’s request Thursday on technical grounds. Shah ruled the union’s request for an injunction was premature because the state Freedom of Information Commission had not decided whether the names should be released.
Media organizations including The Associated Press have requested the names of the soldiers. State public safety officials denied the Connecticut Mirror’s request for names, and the newspaper is appealing to the Freedom of Information Commission pending a hearing. The judge said the union could appeal to the courts if the commission ordered the names to be disclosed.
The union asked that the names of the soldiers not be released until the investigation is complete. State police officials say 27 of the 130 officers have been cleared of wrongdoing, and more are expected to be cleared. The union said many of the discrepancies found in the audit were likely due to record-keeping or data entry errors.
“We are reviewing the judge’s decision to determine whether an appeal is warranted,” the union said in a statement on Friday.
An audit released in June by University of Connecticut data analysts found “high confidence” that police submitted at least 25,966 traffic stop information that never occurred.
The researchers looked at data submitted in 2014 and 2021 to a state database that tracks the race and ethnicity of drivers pulled over by police across the state. They said false reports were more likely to identify drivers as white, skewing data designed to prevent racial profiling.
Analysts cautioned, however, that they were not trying to determine whether the records were intentionally falsified or were errors due to human error. They considered the stops suspicious because the reported traffic citations never appeared in state court system records, where all the citations were adjudicated.
The union said releasing the names of the soldiers before the investigation is complete could unfairly damage their reputations.
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