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Local police address Connecticut police racial profiling report

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HARTFORD — Tension remains high between police departments and racial minorities across the country after the events in Baltimore, Ferguson and other U.S. cities. In Connecticut, a recent report showed racial biases in some of our own police departments.

One month ago, the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University released the report, drawing conclusions from traffic stop data throughout the state. The numbers show racial profiling does exist.

On Thursday night, several community organizations got together for a panel discussion in Hartford on the report and its findings.

“The topic of this conversation is very pertinent at this point in time, but we don’t want to see it just rise up and then just disappear go away again,” explained Earl Bloodworth, the information officer for the African-American Affairs Commission.

At least one person on the panel, Wethersfield Chief of Police James Cetran, isn’t sure the report painted an accurate picture. His town was identified as one of 11 with the worst racial disparities in their traffic stops. The chief claims the numbers are skewed.

“The only vehicles that our officers stop are the ones who are violating the law,” said Cetran.

The Hartford chief and deputy chief say they’re aware racial profiling is an issue, and it’s one the community wants them to take seriously.

Deputy Chief Brian Foley said, “The bottom line is if our community and our citizens feel there’s an issue than certainly we have to recognize that.”

In Hartford, the police are working on potential solutions, such as body cameras and additional training in cultural diversity.

This report was the first one to come out since a new state law strengthened Connecticut’s anti-racial profiling laws. From now on, the report will come out every year with new data.