Thursday, July 21, 2016

High tensions leading Connecticut police officers to make fewer traffic stops, departments say

Police officers in Connecticut are making fewer traffic stops, largely because of growing fear of increased tension between police and residents, escalated by recent national shootings of police officers and by police officers, Dave Altimari reports for the Hartford Courant. In 2015 Connecticut police made 576,000 traffic stops, 20,000 less than in 2014. Some police chiefs attribute the reduction in stops "to the growing animus between officers and the public."

The number of statewide tickets issued in 2015 decreased by 24,196, or 6 percent, according to data submitted by the departments to the state racial profiling prohibition advisory board, Altimari writes. "Ninety-three departments reported a decrease in infractions issued and 37 departments reported an increase last year" and "about 60 police departments reported a decline in motor vehicle stops, compared to about 40 departments that reported an increase."

Eugene O'Donnell, a former police officer and district attorney in New York City who teaches law and police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, "said the numbers in Connecticut, considered to be a relatively 'safe' state, reflect what he believes will be a national trend of officers cutting back on routine traffic stops," Altimari writes. O'Donnell told him, "People are toying with the cops, almost daring them so they can videotape it. The interaction is not one of equals. Citizens are yelling at cops and filming them all of the time. If you are doing stops in a high-crime neighborhood there's a good chance you will end up in a bad situation and you can't pretend that the political establishment will always support you." (Read more)

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