NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Connecticut Passes Anti-Profiling Law


Summer 1999

A measure (S.B.1282) signed by Governor John G. Rowland on June 28 makes racial profiling illegal by requiring police agencies to record the race and ethnicity of every motorist pulled over for traffic violations. The bill also cuts funding to any police agency which is found practicing profiling (Christopher Hoffman, "Racial Profiling Now Illegal as Rowland Inks Bill Into Law," New Haven Register, June 29, 1999).

The bill sets timetables for agencies to comply. By January 1, 2000, all law enforcement agencies in Connecticut must adopt written policies which prohibit searches based on race, ethnicity, age, gender or sexual orientation. By then agencies must begin to collect the data on stopped motorists. By October 1, 2000, the agencies must report the information they have collected to the state. Beginning in 2002, the state will publish annual reports on the information. The law creates a method for registering a complaint of racial profiling, and requires the state to investigate each complaint filed.

There was mixed reaction to the new law. State Sen. Alvin Penn, the sponsor who said he has been stopped because his is black, said, ". . .today the Constitution State does an affirmation that no one is above the law, but, better yet, no one is beneath the law." Roger Vann, head of the state branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), declared it "a good day for everyone who's suffered the silent humiliation of being pulled over as a result of a racially-motivated traffic stop"

The bill passed the state Senate on June 8, by a margin of 35-1, and passed the House on June 5, by a margin of 120-25. State Sen. Win Smith Jr., who cast the sole "no" vote in the Senate, worried that the bill "will just be an unenforceable imposition on law enforcement" (Gregory B. Hladky, "Senate OKs Bill to Ban Profiling, Require Reports," New Haven Register, June 9, 1999).

New Haven police Sgt. Louis G. Cavalier, president of New Haven Police Union Local No. 530, worried that the bill prohibits police officers from pulling over minority drivers who are not breaking any laws. Cavalier explained, "you're going to force police officers now, no matter what the circumstances, to give a ticket."

Connecticut is the second state to pass a bill regarding racial profiling. It is notable because it is much stronger than the bill passed in North Carolina, and because Connecticut had not had any nationally publicized racial profiling cases. Many minority drivers have claimed that there is a problem, especially in the mostly white suburbs. In 1997 a white police officer from East Haven, Connecticut, shot a black motorist, Malik Jones. The victim's family claims the shooting resulted from an incident of racial profiling.

The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (CJPF) in 1998 commissioned a survey of Connecticut adults about their views of the police. Racial bias by the police and the justice system was a major subject. ("The Perceptions of Connecticut Resident of Their Police," Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, August 1998, Report online at: <

Governor John Rowland - Governor's Office, State Capitol, 210 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106, Tel: (860) 566-4840, E-mail: <>.

State Sen. Alvin Penn - Legislative Office Building, Room 3600, Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106, Tel: (860) 240-0589, Fax: (860) 240-0036.

Roger Vann - Connecticut NAACP, P.O. Box 3087, New Haven, CT 06515, Tel: (203) 230-5266, Fax: (203) 776-2662 E-mail: <>.

State Sen. Win Smith Jr. - Legislative Office Building, Hartford, CT 06106, Tel: (860) 240-0529, Fax: (860) 240-8306, E-mail: <>.

Sgt. Louis Cavalier - New Haven Police Union Local No. 530, 1 Union Ave., New Haven, CT 06519, Tel: (203) 776-0908, Fax: (203) 776-2573, E-mail: <>.

Nicholas Pastore - Criminal Justice Policy Fellowship, 109 Church St., New Haven, CT 06510, Tel: (203) 777-7836, Fax: (203) 624-2126, E-mail: <>, Web: <>.