Yale University researchers will release a report today of recent traffic tickets issued in East Haven. The data corroborate allegations of racial profiling by East Haven police. The town’s police chief has been placed on administrative leave, pending the results of a federal investigation. WNPR’s Diane Orson reports.
For more than a year, Latinos say they’ve been stopped by East Haven police purely because of their appearance. They describe police intimidation, harassment and racial insults. Latinos taken into custody say they’ve been beaten within earshot of on-duty supervisors. Yale law students have been documenting the claims. University researchers analyzed traffic tickets issued in East Haven between June 2008 and February 2010. Of 376 tickets, 210 were to Hispanic drivers, though Hispanics make up only 6% of the town’s population. The data also suggest that East Haven police officers mislabel tickets – reporting Hispanics as whites – confusing the statistics. A U.S. Department of Justice Department investigation is underway. Earlier this week Mayor April Capone Almon placed East Haven Police Chief Leonard Gallo on paid Administrative.
"I don’t know if its personal or whatever it is, but I think its outrageous."
Standing on Main Street, East Haven resident Carol Novella says the chief’s suspension is political. She opposes the federal investigation and says problems in town should be resolved by local authorities.
"This is something that they should have under control. And you know, without having an investigation."
But Alice Kirschner says the police chief has not been forthcoming with important information about possible racial profiling.
"I’m not so sure its political on the mayor of East Haven’s part. I think its more that people are sick and tired of the police chief playing the games."
Chief Gallo says his suspension is politically motivated and he may sue the town. In a letter to East Haven officials earlier this month, the Justice Department said its preliminary findings reveal outdated policies on police conduct and a lack of appropriate guidelines on the use of force.
For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.