Racial Profiling in Connecticut?

Analyzing Traffic Stop Data From 2017

Story by the Connecticut Data Collaborative
May 2018

In 2017, there were 542,820 traffic stops conducted in Connecticut by local and state police.

While the total number of stops has been slowly declining every year since 2014, the trend varied for different races. In 2017, there were more stops for Black, Hispanic, and Indian American / Alaskan Natives drivers compared to 2016.

Police reports differentiate over a dozen reasons for stop: speed related, stop signal, seatbelt, cellphone, etc. Below is the bar chart representing percentage distribution of stop reasons for each race. We can see that speed-related, moving violation, and registration are the three most common reasons for stops.

There are several outcomes to a traffic stop. Let's look at three of them — ticket, written and verbal warnings — and see if drivers of various races get them with similar frequencies. The chart below shows the percentage of each of the three outcomes and does not account for other dispositions (such as arrest or summons).

The share of tickets among three possible outcomes is nearly the same for White (45%) and Black (44%) drivers. Black drivers have the highest share of Verbal warnings (45%) and the lowest share of Written warnings (11%, same for Hispanic drivers) among all races. Indian Americans have the highest percentage of stops resulting in a ticket, 58%.

17,536 cars were searched in 2017. As a result of the search, contraband was found in 6,410 cases. White drivers had both the largest number of stops where contraband was found (3,175), as well as the highest contraband-to-car-search ratio, with 42% of searches resulting in found contraband. Black and Hispanic drivers had the lowest percentages (33% and 32%, respectively).

The four graphs below show the total numbers of cars searched and contraband found for each race for 2014–2017. The steeper the lines are, the lower the percentage of car searches resulting in contraband are.

Cars Searched vs Contraband Found