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‘Witch hunt.’ Investigation clears most state troopers of writing false tickets

Dozens of troopers did not intentionally write thousands of fake traffic tickets, former U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly found.

John Craven

Feb 1, 2024, 3:17 PM

Updated 168 days ago

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The infamous Connecticut State Police ticket scandal was mostly “inattention and carelessness,” according to an independent investigation released on Thursday.
Dozens of troopers did not intentionally write thousands of fake traffic tickets, former U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly found.
But in a strong rebuke, Daly accused top brass of ignoring the problems, leading to a decade of inaccurate racial profiling data.
“GHOST TICKETS”
The investigation began last summer after a Connecticut Racial Profiling Project Advisory Board audit found a “high likelihood” that state troopers falsified at least 26,000 tickets. Those citations didn’t match both the Central Infractions Bureau database, and the state’s racial profiling system.
The bombshell report made national news and led to the departure of the top two state police leaders.
But Daly concluded that most of the “ghost tickets” could be explained by sloppy data entry, poor training, technical issues and miscommunication by dispatchers. It said some of the stops were actually non-moving violations or “town tickets,” which do not appear in the Central Infractions Database.
Gov. Ned Lamont called it a vindication for state police.
“Overwhelming majority – almost all of them – were inadvertent problems, sloppiness,” he told reporters.
INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION
After the audit’s release, Lamont appointed Daly to conduct an independent investigation.
The initial report identified 130 troopers with an usually high number of discrepancies, but Daly concluded that only six active-duty troopers and one constable “may have falsified traffic stop data.” One trooper may have “engaged in intentional misconduct” when he “entered verbal warnings as infractions to appear more productive to his supervisors,” according to the report.
Connecticut's new public safety commissioner said all seven are now under Internal Affairs investigation and off the streets. He would not identify which barracks they’re assigned to.
“I won't tolerate it,” said Ronnell Higgins, the interim head of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. “It’s as simple as that. I will not tolerate it.”
Daly concluded race was not a factor.
“We found no evidence that any Trooper or Constable engaged in conduct with the intention of skewing racial profiling data,” she wrote.
SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS
While most troopers themselves were spared, Daly’s report was highly critical of their former bosses.
“There have been significant failures by the Connecticut State Police (“CSP”) with respect to the reporting of racial profiling data,” she wrote. “The failures demonstrate inadequate leadership, judgment, and initiative.”
The report hammered top brass for brushing off a 2018 incident, where an internal review found that four troopers falsified traffic stop data. Three were allowed to retire; the fourth is still on the job.
State police never publicly disclosed the investigation until Hearst Connecticut Media uncovered it in 2022.
“The Connecticut State Police is committed to continuous improvement,” said Higgins, who just took over as public safety commissioner in November. “We will get better. We will improve.”
Lamont said he will appoint an independent compliance officer, and plans to introduce legislation making it a crime to falsify traffic stop records.
“I have as much confidence in my state police today as I’ve ever had,” he said.
“WITCH HUNT”
Since the audit first surfaced last summer, the Connecticut State Police Union said it was rushed, subjecting troopers to a “witch hunt.”
“When this was released, there was not an investigation that had been done,” said Republican state Rep. Greg Howard, a Stonington police detective. “It was a comparison of data. And from that data, we had legislators and the media and the public drawing conclusions. Now the investigation is done.”
But the report’s author stands by the decision.
“We provided a full copy of the audit to the State Police in April. The report came out over two months later,” said Ken Barone, with the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project. “We asked the state police administration at the time, ‘Would you like to submit a written response to the audit to be included in the audit?’ And they declined.”
WHAT’S NEXT?
The investigation isn’t over yet.
State police are still examining 12 troopers, according to Daly’s report. In addition, the U.S. Justice Department is still conducting a criminal probe. The U.S. Department of Transportation is also investigating.


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