DWI Scandal in Connecticut


Not sure where to begin with this one:

It didn't matter whether drivers were drunk for state troopers from Troop I in Bethany to charge them with driving under the influence.

Three years ago, drunken-driving arrests were a game for several troopers in Troop I, according to a scathing report released Monday attacking how the agency polices itself.

The report, released by the state's Attorney General's Office and the New York state police, says it was an "open competition" among members of the troop's midnight shift to see who could make the most DUI arrests.

"They wanted to become members of the 100 club for the year," the report quoted one trooper, who was describing how each trooper tried to make 100 DUI arrests.

A state police internal audit in 2004 showed Troop I, where the "100 club" was active, made 500 DUI arrests in the previous year, far more than any other barracks. The midnight shift even received a departmental award for its DUI arrests.

Emphasis mine.  The emphasized portion is just the first hint of the institutional shortcomings that would let this kind of thing go on (the assurances of Justice Scalia notwithstanding).  When you base police performance on number of arrests, you create an incentive for officers to bring back lots of arrests.  And you set the stage for this kind of "proactive policing."  But it gets worse.

According to the report, it took serious misconduct for the troopers to log that many DUI arrests. The report said troopers were discouraging people from taking breath tests.

The troopers told people that if they took the breath tests they would have to stay in police custody longer before they could post bond and be released, the report states.

That allowed troopers to report they arrested drivers on DUI charges because the drivers admitted using alcohol or marijuana, the report stated.

Subsequent laboratory tests showed that many of the people arrested did not have drugs or alcohol in their systems, or had amounts well below the legal limit.

You have to wonder if anyone will go back and clear these people's records?  What about people who lost the respect of their peers, or perhaps their jobs or even families because of a DUI arrest?  Will they be compensated?

Believe it or not, it actually gets worse:

The audit's findings were turned over to the state police Internal Affairs Division. But the internal affairs investigation looked at only one trooper.

"The internal affairs investigation was conducted in such a haphazard manner that it would be impossible to determine whether or not employee misconduct occurred by reading the internal affairs investigation report," the report read. "Virtually none of the leads in this case were adequately followed."

The internal affairs investigation concluded the issues were not that serious and were the result of sloppy paperwork, according to the report.

It was common for the internal affairs division to try to protect fellow state police officers above all else, according to the report.

At minimum, the officers who did this and the internal affairs officers who covered for them should be fired.  They should probably also face criminal charges.  If I had to bet, I'd wager that their actual punishment will be quite a bit less severe.

Follow-up story here, which includes some pretty serious other allegations of criminal conduct on the part of police.

Thanks to commenter "David" for the follow-up story.

NEXT: Augusto Pinochet, 1915-2006

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  1. Why, of all professions, do we let the police police themselves?

  2. Agreed with Anonopotomous.

    Internal affairs should be replaced with a citizen accountability board, the members of which are chosen in the same way jurors are, except that there are no dismissals for cause (e.g., bias against police).

  3. jf,

    Check The Gulag Archapelego, book 1, for what you advocate.

    BTW, the story sounds like it could be from Fairfax County, VA too.

  4. Speaking of The Gulag Archipelago, is DWI, based on relatively low levels of intoxication, our version of “Anti-Social crimes”?

  5. Actually, it’s CT. There’s a follow up to this article here, including this awful story.

    The trooper said a speeding car came by and he yelled for it to stop. He said the car initially slowed down, but then its engine raced, and the car headed toward him.He said he jumped out of the way, but his flashlight “just left” his hand. Then he heard glass break.

    The flashlight apparently struck the man driving the car, fracturing his jaw, knocking out teeth and causing serious cuts to his lips. The man’s injuries required reconstructive and plastic surgery.

    The man was charged with failure to obey an officer’s signal, engaging in pursuit, first-degree reckless endangerment, attempted assault on a police officer and interfering.

    A witness said the trooper told him he threw his flashlight to try to get the car to stop. Another witness said the man driving also said the trooper threw the flashlight at him.

    But the internal affairs investigators took the trooper at his word that he did not intentionally throw his flashlight.

    The investigation found the trooper had improperly used his flashlight. As a punishment, he lost three days of holiday time.

    It’s a strange world where a paralyzed man goes to prison for 25 years for trying to get pain medication when the penalty for shattering someone’s face with a flashlight is three lost vacation days.

  6. Newsflash: American police are horribly corrupt and receive incentives for fucking over the people.

    Notice the complete lack of shock.

  7. Bush will give them an award. That’s their punishment.

  8. Deus ex Machina,

    No, the “citizen accountability board” business of which you advocate quickly becomes a usless prop, as Solzhenitsyn wrote of at great length early in the book. They even had some sort of ‘people’s witnesses’ or some cuch to accompany the police when rounding up enemies of the state.

  9. Guy Montag,

    I will note of course that you didn’t address Deus ex Machina’s question.

  10. Zeno, actually I was informing him what I was talking about as it looked pretty cryptic on re-reading what I wrote.

    If it is all that important, I do think that for a while the alcohol punishment folks have really gone off the deep end but things show some signs of getting back to normal.

    The new “anti-social” crimes are smoking, Christianity and sometimes Judaism. The engine driving the anti-social crimes train is the ACLU and similar, of course.

  11. The new “anti-social” crimes are smoking, Christianity and sometimes Judaism. The engine driving the anti-social crimes train is the ACLU and similar, of course.

    Which is why it is impossible for an atheist to run for political office, because Christianity is an “anti-social” crime.

  12. It seems that we’re letting the actions of 95 percent of police give all the good ones a bad name.

  13. Brian Courts,

    I think you are being overly generous.

  14. Guy Montag,

    So, you are upset with the police who trample on rights and with the ACLU who strive to protect them. Can anyone do right by you?

  15. Guy Montag: what an unbelievable steaming pile. When a Christian gets dragged out of his house by a SWAT team and sent to prison for 55 years for praying out of turn I’ll concede the point. But looking at the TV, it seems to me the Christians are doing just fine.

    I, for one, hope that the cult of victimization does for the Christians what its done for inner-city African-Americans.

  16. James,

    Thanks for the hysterics and tha pathetically bad illustration to go with it.


    We must be thinking of completely different ACLUs. I am thinking of the one that files suit at any mention of Christianity in a public place as if it is some sort of constitutional violation.

  17. That’s not the ACLU acting alone, most of those cases are one sect against another or have some other context than merely “banning Christianity”.

  18. Another great post by Balko. If anyone remembers Scalia in the recent Michigan case that OK’ed a dubious police search said that the exclusionary rule was perhaps outliving its usefulness given the strides in police professionalism in the recent decades. How Scalia, who usually pretends to be an originalist can fall prey to the idea that progress means human nature is reformed to the point where we can know trust those who have power to abuse such trust, can fall for such garbage is beyond me.

  19. James, I couldn’t agree more.

  20. Somewhat similar activity occurs in NJ. In the Police Beat column (what a great name!) of the newspaper there are never any DWI arrests, but plenty of DUI, the difference being the slight of hand in what the I stands for in each instance.

    My solution is to select citizens for police duty, similar to jury duty. You’d get called up, ride shotgun in the patrol car for a week, asking questions like:
    Is this legal?
    Do you have a warrant?
    You get paid fot this?
    You call that a discount, not a shakedown?

  21. Police departments are slowly loosing their ability to police themselves. I hate to say it, but Congress needs to step in. The first thing is all police unions need to be banned. Policing is too important a job to be left to the Unions. There needs to be a national policing licensing system. You shouldn’t be able to work for any law enforcement agency without a license. The standard for keeping the license ought to be very high. One act of misconduct and you loose your license and can never be in law enforcement again. Lawyers and doctors have to have license and loose the right to practice for misconduct, why not cops?

  22. This is news? I saw a West Wing episode from 5 years ago alleging that Connecticut cops were making false DUI arrests.

  23. Great. Just because of a little sloppy paperwork we should overturn the convictions of hundreds of potential drunken child killers. But it’s only a crime if they actually kill someone, right?

  24. From Super Troopers:

    [Having pulled over a speeding driver.]

    Mac: All right, how about Cat Game?

    Foster: Cat Game? What’s the record?

    Mac: Thorny did six, but I think you can do ten.

    Foster: Ten? Starting right meow?

    [They go up to the car.]

    Driver: Sorry about the…

    Foster: All right meow. Hand over your license and registration.

    [The man gives him his license.]

    Foster: Your registration? Hurry up meow.

    Driver: [laughing] Sorry.

    Foster: Is there something funny here boy?

    Driver: Oh, no.

    Foster: Then why you laughing, Mister… Larry Johnson?

    [Foster stares at him.]

    Foster: All right meow, where were we?

    Driver: Excuse me, are you saying meow?

    Foster: Am I saying meow?

    Driver: I thought…

    Foster: Don’t think boy. Meow, do you know how fast you were going?

  25. Guy: the ACLU doesn’t carry guns and badges. And the “pathetically bad illustration” is what really really happened to a paraplegic “drug trafficker” who had a few too many of his prescription drugs. I’m having a hard time working up much sympathy for those poor Christians, whose primary holiday is a national holiday, after all. I’m sure they’ll survive somehow or another.

  26. Keep the faith, Guy. Maybe–just maybe–you’ll live long enough to see anti-Christian bigotry subside to the point where an openly practicing Christian in America has a chance of being elected to some political office. Maybe even the White House! And maybe–I don’t mean to get your hopes up here–if you’re really truly super-duper double-extra lucky, anti-Christian bigotry might fade away to the point where Christian religious ceremonies become actual Federal holidays!

    You might call me insane for thinking this. “C’mon, Jennifer, you actually think anti-Christian persecution will fade to the point where Christmas becomes an official holiday? And a guy who says ‘I am a Christian’ will actually have a chance of getting elected? Pshaw, next thing you’ll try to tell me that people in courthouses will be asked to swear oaths on Bibles or something.” I know, it’s crazy, but keep hope alive.

  27. I lived in this town and the scariest thing about this whole story is that Bethany doesn’t have its own police dept. – it uses a “Resident State Trooper” from this bastion of morality. I guess I’m really glad I don’t live there anymore.

    Also of note is that the Resident Trooper at the time was straight up white trash whose son was the Nelson Muntz of our school.

  28. I am thinking of the one that files suit at any mention of Christianity in a public place as if it is some sort of constitutional violation.

    Then I would suggest you’re thinking of something which simply doesn’t exist, which is somewhat typical of people arguing that Christianity is somehow being repressed in the U.S.. Jennifer made the point better than I can.

    Anyway, maybe I’m wrong. Could you please provide links to all the suits the ACLU has filed because Christianity was “mentioned in a public place.” Please note the difference between “mentioning” Christianity in a public place and a publicly funded institution endorsing Christianity over other religions.

  29. Cops can arrange hits on officers that expose organized crime drug dealers.

    Check out my videos on Connecticut corruption.

  30. If police are falsifying DUI arrests, what else are they doing?

    In the habit of doing wroing and collecting revenue, not honest policing, Connecticut is not a good place to even drive through, nevermind live there.

    I spent 100’s of thousands of dollars and years fixing up boarded up Connecticut rental property.

    I got mouthy about police doing nothing about crime, crack cocaine, and heroin, they were just chasing skirts and writing tickets.

    Well, after I wrote in newspapers and went to elected officials proposing Civilian Oversight of Police, I ended up in prison for pepper spraying a mugger who jumped me on my own property.

    The details of the story are more alarming, but I am not going to write a book here in comments.

    Try doing a word search on Steven G. Erickson for my pics and story.

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