Rep. Bruce Morris Passionately Supports H.B. 5437, Urban Lawmakers Hold Police Accountable

This column appears in the March 26 – April 2 edition of the Hartford News… Last Friday the Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on H.B. 5437 An Act Concerning The Alvin W. Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act., Rep. Matt Ritter’s racial profiling bill ( Community Party member Mary Sanders, who wrote our Trayvon Martin Act bill language, testified in support of the legislation, which includes CP’s Trayvon Act traffic stop receipt amendment. Mary appears at about the 8 hour, 24 minute mark of the Connecticut Network video. Evelyn Richardson also attended the hearing in support of the bill; Nicole Hutchings contributed written testimony. Rep. Bruce Morris passionately endorsed the receipt provision, which would require that a motorist receive a copy of the traffic stop report patrol officers are required to fill out. The receipt would have to be provided whether the officer gives the driver a ticket, written/verbal warning or not. The report includes the date/time/location of the stop and the officer’s identifying information. Morris became emotional as he talked about being racially profiled by a police officer days earlier, after leaving the Legislative Office Building late at night. You can watch Morris’ comments at about 4 hours, 32 minutes. Sen. Gary Winfield called a spade a spade, calling out the police for opposing any legislation aimed at holding them accountable. You can watch his remarks at about 4 hours, 44 minutes. Rep. Angel Arce put Farmington Police Chief Paul J. Melanson in check for attempting to challenge his account of being racially profiled by Farmington cops. His remarks, which include a history lesson about racism by the Avon police, begin at about 4 hours, 54 minutes. Rep. Robyn Porter told a chilling story about being stopped by a cop who told her he had to make sure her legislative plates weren’t stolen. She talked about the need for accountability and how police body cameras have been successful in Hamden, her district. Porter advised the police chiefs who testified at the hearing to reach out to the Hamden police, who have implemented a privacy protocol regarding usage of the cameras. Her comments begin at about 5 hours, 7 minutes.

Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs, a member of the Penn Act advisory board, spoke in opposition to motorists getting the receipt. Fuchs and Judiciary co-chair William Tong agreed that the traffic stop receipt wouldn’t promote “understanding” between cops and immigrants. The receipt is not meant to be a conversation piece. East Haven police officers Dennis Spaulding and David Cari were convicted in federal court in 2013 of racial profiling and violating the civil rights of Latinos. The Department of Justice investigation found that Spaulding and Cari falsified traffic stop reports, entering Latino drivers as white in an effort to cover up their racist activities. If a motorist gets a copy of the traffic stop report, they will immediately know if their race has been misrepresented. The motorist will also have evidence that the traffic stop took place. If an officer knows that he or she has to give the motorist a copy of the report, this will obviously be a deterrent to falsifying the form or making stops based on race. Fuchs wants ‘conversations’ instead of the police being held accountable. Tong should not fall for Fuchs’ attempt to kill this legislation. As we reported last week, the DOJ found that the Ferguson police conspired with the city to generate revenue by racially profiling poor Black residents. The city has been using money from fines and court fees to balance their city budget: fines for low level offenses were the second highest source of revenue for Ferguson in 2013. A subsequent investigation by the New York Times found that other Missouri municipalities were making even more money than Ferguson from biased policing. The Hartford Police have refused to cooperate with CP’s FOI request for data on traffic fines in the North, South, West End and Blue Hills neighborhoods. We plan to approach the City Council about the HPD’s refusal to cooperate.

In 2010 former state trooper Andrew Crumbie told Mary and I that the most blatant form of racial profiling occurs when the motorist is not given a ticket or written warning. We then came up with the traffic stop receipt concept and brought it to Rep. Ritter (then a city councilman), who has supported the provision since he was elected later that year. The police have fought to kill the receipt every year since then. The receipt language was one of three CP Penn Act amendments passed in 2012. Due to political pressure from the police, the receipt was repealed before going in effect July 1, 2013. Rep. Ritter again added the receipt to his bill this year, over the objections of the advisory board. During his testimony Fuchs talked about the need for ‘communication’ about racial profiling between the police and community residents. This is the same guy who told me during an interview in 2013 that the advisory board had not reviewed or discussed the findings of the DOJ investigation of the EHPD. When I asked why, Fuchs said, “That’s not our charge.” Fuchs’ assertion was that the board didn’t need to “look back” at a racial profiling scandal that made national news, exposed what the DOJ described as a “culture of corruption” at the EHPD and resulted in the conviction of two EHPD officers for violating the civil rights of Latinos. Fuchs became upset when I challenged him about the absurdity of his remarks, going as far as to question my “professionalism”. In my opinion, that was coded language for saying that I was acting uppity. Bill Dyson, the advisory board’s Black figurehead, said that the board members had not read the DOJ report and didn’t need to. When I said that the board members absolutely should have read the report, Dyson had the effrontery to ask me why. Last year the board used CT News Junkie to spin revisionist history: Dyson continued to contradict Fuchs and himself in an interview, repeating his preposterous claim that the EHPD case was the impetus for their work.

Evidence exists which show that police departments’ compliance with the current law has been poor. Members of the advisory board admitted to me that they received complaints from community residents about patrol officers not giving them the card they are supposed to receive during a traffic stop. The card contains information on how to file a racial profiling complaint. An activist in New Haven told us that residents in her neighborhood weren’t being given the cards. Rep. Morris told Patrick Gaynor, President of the Connecticut Council of Police Unions, that constituents in both his and Rep. Porter’s districts had not indicated to them that police were giving them the cards. Morris said he was not given the card after he was stopped last week. These reports refute Gaynor’s attempt to minimize the racial profiling issue by telling lawmakers that the Office of Policy and Management has only received 12 racial profiling complaints since October 2013, and his assertion that the money in Rep. Ritter’s bill that would be used to install printers in police cruisers would be better spent on initiatives to “build trust” between community residents and the police. Ha!

Rep. David Baram attempted to throw cold water on the hearing by talking about the diversity scam: you know, how everything will be peachy-keen if departments add Black and Latino officers to their rosters. The blue first mantra stating that cops are cops before they’re any color is well known. In February, Elson Morales was one of two Bridgeport police officers who pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of Orlando Lopez-Soto during a physical assault that was caught on video. Diversity sure didn’t help the Black teen who was knocked unconscious by a Black NYPD cop, who then taunted the teen’s friends who were recording his brutal assault by telling them to make sure they got it on film. In another video, a Black NYPD officer stands by passively as a white detective punches a Black twelve-year-old boy.

My co-worker John Hollis, who has worked hard to help pass CP’s Safe Work Environment Act workplace bullying legislation, shared his thoughts on the racial profiling issue. “It’s usually the police chiefs that are against the rights of the people in general. Those are political jobs. Their primary objective is to protect the ruling class while keeping the rest of us in check. They don’t want any laws that would interfere with their objective. A retired Hartford cop told me that.” The state racial profiling law is named in honor of the late Sen. Alvin W. Penn, who spoke out after being racially profiled in 1996.

As Rep. Morris said Friday, biased policing is alive and well in Connecticut and nationwide. Stay tuned for updates. Contact Judiciary Committee co-chair Sen. Eric Coleman and politely urge him to support H.B. 5437.

Check out the Connecticut Post’s coverage of the public hearing. As this column went to press, Christine Stuart of CT News Junkie and Daniela Altimari of the Courant, two of the most prominent State Capitol reporters, have not covered this story. Any Capitol ‘journalist’ who ignores the events at last week’s public hearing is a stooge for the police.

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin and Safe Work Environment Acts, including action alerts. Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. Check out our No Sellout blog ( for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s for selected columns ( . Contact us at 860-206-8879 or


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