Following a thorough investigation, the Justice Department today announced its findings that the East Haven Police Department (EHPD) has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against Latinos in violation of the Constitution and federal law.
Specifically, the investigation found that EHPD intentionally targets Latinos for traffic enforcement and treats Latino drivers more harshly after traffic stops in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The investigation further found that EHPD has willfully enabled discrimination by failing to put in place basic law enforcement practices and procedures used by law enforcement agencies across the country to prevent discrimination.
The Department of Justice findings are based on:
a statistical analysis demonstrating that Latino drivers are disproportionally targeted for traffic stops;
an analysis of traffic stops showing that officers use non-standard and, in some cases, unacceptable, justifications for stops that are not employed against non-Latino drivers, and post-stop treatment that shows EHPD treating Latino drivers more punitively than non-Latino drivers;
serious incidents of abuse of authority and retaliation against individuals who criticize or complain of EHPD’s discriminatory treatment of Latinos; and
a failure to remedy a history of discrimination and a deliberate indifference to the rights of minorities, including EHPD’s failure to guide, train, supervise and discipline officers engaged in unlawful discrimination.
The department will work with town officials to obtain voluntary compliance that will lead to sustainable reforms. Should EHPD and East Haven choose to not cooperate in reaching an agreed-upon remedy, the department may seek relief from the federal courts.