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A statistical data analysis of traffic stops, which were made by police throughout the state during a one-year period, indicates that Newtown police stopped more Hispanic motorists during the daylight hours than during darkness.
The data analysis for October 1, 2015, through September 30, 2016, seeks to quantify the characteristics of police traffic stops in the state in view of a 1999 state law that prohibits law enforcement agencies from stopping, detaining, or searching motorists when a traffic stop is motivated solely by considerations of the race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, or sexual orientation of an individual.
The recent report, which is sponsored by the state, found that six municipal police departments and one state police troop displayed a “statistically significant racial or ethnic disparity” in their traffic stops. Those police departments are from Berlin, Meriden, Monroe, Newtown, Norwich, and Ridgefield, plus state police’s Troop B, which covers northwest Connecticut.
“The Newtown municipal police department was observed to have made 16.2 percent minority stops, of which 7.1 percent were Hispanic and 7 percent were black motorists from October 2015 to September 2016,” according to the report.
“The… analysis indicated a statistically significant disparity in the rate that Hispanic motorists were stopped during daylight relative to darkness,” it adds. “The odds that a Hispanic motorist was stopped during daylight was 2.3 times larger than the odds during darkness,” according to the report.
The authors of the report plan to conduct in-depth follow-up analyses with those seven police units.
Newtown police officials had a meeting with the report’s authors on Wednesday, November 15.
In response to the report, Police Chief James Viadero said November 13, “I’m very confident that our officers are not involved in any type of racial profiling.”
“A ‘disparity’ does not represent racial profiling,” he noted. Of the meeting with the study’s authors, he said, “We welcome anything that will make us better.”
Chief Viadero said he has questions about the methodologies and premises used in the statistical study.
Much traffic from lower Fairfield County passes through Newtown, he said, adding that the presence of Interstate 84, Route 25, and Route 34 makes for heavy traffic in town.
The study was prepared by The Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.
Chief Viadero said he is confident that the report’s authors will consider the demographic variables that affect Newtown in terms of their study.