State Sen. Alvin W. Penn

First enacted in 1999, Connecticut’s anti-racial profiling law entitled, the Alvin W. Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act (Public Act 99-198), prohibits any law enforcement agency from stopping, detaining, or searching any motorist when the stop is motivated solely by considerations of the race, color, ethnicity, age, gender or sexual orientation of that individual (Connecticut General Statutes Sections 54-1l). The law was named after the late State Senator Alvin W. Penn from Bridgeport, Connecticut who championed the legislation in Connecticut.

In 2012, the Connecticut General Assembly made several changes to the law to improve the system established to address racial profiling concerns in Connecticut. Changes to the law took effect on October 1, 2013 and are summarized below.

Overview of Connecticut General Statute 54-1m:

  1. Police agencies must adopt a written policy that prohibits the stopping, detention, or search of any person when such action is solely motivated by considerations of race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, or sexual orientation, and such action would constitute a violation of the civil rights of the person.
  2. Police officers must record traffic stop information using the standardized method and any form developed and implemented by the Racial Profiling Prohibition Advisory Board and the Office of Policy and Management. Currently officers are required to collect the following information for each traffic stop:
    1. Date and time of stop
    2. Location of stop
    3. Officer ID
    4. Race, color, ethnicity, age and gender of operator of motor vehicle (based on the observation and perception of the officer)
    5. Nature of alleged traffic violation and the statutory citation of the violation
    6. Disposition of the stop, including whether a warning, citation or summons was issued, whether a search was conducted and whether a custodial arrest was made
  3. A notice must be given to the person stopped that if the person believes they have been stopped, detained or subject to a search based on a protected class they may file a complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency.
    1. Instructions on how to file a complaint must be given to the person stopped
    2. A standardized method should be established to report complaints
    3. Secretary of the Office of Police and Management if municipal police departments and Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) fail to comply with the law to order appropriate penalties in the form of withholding of state funds.
  4. Authority given to the Secretary of the Office of Police and Management if municipal police departments and Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) fail to comply with the law to order appropriate penalties in the form of withholding of state funds.