Stopped drivers let go about half the time June 17, 2016

Jake Kara
Data Editor

When drivers in Connecticut get pulled over, the likelihood of being let go is within coin-flip territory, but it varies quite a bit from officer-to-officer and department-to-department. In some cases those odds change depending on whether the driver is a man or a woman.

Across the state, men get pulled over more often than women. For this analysis, we used the detailed police traffic stop data released by the state and looked only at the 2,241 officers who stopped 100 or more drivers, and we found that the average officer stopped men 62.8 percent of the time and women 36.2 percent of the time.

Which departments' officers stop women at the highest rates?

The vast majority of the officers we looked at pulled men over more often than women, but there were some exceptions.

The top 25 percent of officers who stopped women most frequently stopped women drivers 41 percent of the time or more. Only 68 officers (3 percent) stopped more women than men.

The following departments' officers stopped women at the highest average rates.

Departments that stopped women at the highest rates
These police departments' officers averaged the highest rates for stopping women. Middlebury, with only 184 stops after restricting this analysis to officers with more than 100 stops, was left off this list.
Department Total stops Men Women
Putnam 2824 52.5% 46.6%
Simsbury 3953 54.4% 44.6%
Guilford 3395 54.7% 44.4%
Brookfield 3120 55.1% 43.9%
Shelton 382 55.7% 43.7%
Stamford 407 56% 43%
Westport 6962 56.2% 42.9%
Madison 3709 56.2% 42.8%
Glastonbury 7165 56.4% 42.7%

There were six departments that had three or more officers who pulled over more women than men: Westport (8 officers); Brookfield (4); State Police (4); Madison (3); Glastonbury (3); Newtown (3). (Remember, only 3 percent of officers fell into that category.)

How often are drivers let go without penalty?

Statewide, about half the times a driver is stopped he or she will be let go without a penalty more serious than a warning.

Across the state, men were let go about 45.8 percent of the time and penalized 54.1 percent of the time. Women were let go 49.4 percent of the time and penalized 50.1 percent of the time. Among the 2,241 officers we looked at, the average officer let 52.4 percent of drivers go, but there was a lot of variation from officer to officer.

We defined being "let go" as receiving a written or verbal warning or when records showed "no disposition." Here's a breakdown of the different dispositions we classified as penalties and their proportion to all of the traffic stops statewide:

  • Infraction ticket, 47.7%
  • Misdemeanor summons, 5.5%
  • Uniform arrest, 0.9%

Here are the dispositions we classified as being "let go":

  • Written warning, 17.9%
  • Verbal warning, 26.4%
  • No disposition, 1.6%

Who lets the most drivers go?

Some officers and departments let a very large share of drivers go — 148 officers let 90% or more of stopped drivers go; 39 officers let 95% or more of stopped drivers go. These seven departments let 98% or more of drivers go:

Officers who let drivers go at highest rate
Out of 2,241 who issued more than 100 tickets, these seven stopped drivers without penalizing drivers at least 98 percent of the time.
Department Officer Total stops "Let go" rate
Windsor DXT0160 303 100%
Suffield 326 183 99%
Windsor TXM119 327 99%
Putnam 485 173 98%
Redding 105 100 98%
West Haven 217 125 98%
Windsor BXT0195 366 98%

These are the departments whose officers let drivers go at the highest rates.

Departments with highest let-go rates
These police departments' officers averaged the highest rates of stopping drivers without a resulting penalty more serious than a warning. Middlebury, with only 184 stops after restricting this analysis to officers with more than 100 stops, was left off this list.
Department Total stops Let go rate
Putnam 2824 92.2%
Plainfield 953 88.6%
Plymouth 3071 87%
West Haven 1229 85.714286%
Torrington 11932 85.022222%
Thomaston 796 85%
Avon 535 83.25%
Windsor 7607 83.2%
Redding 3016 82.8%

Cops in or near cities were more strict than in smaller towns. The departments whose officers let drivers go at the lowest rates were:

Departments with lowest let-go rates
These police departments' officers averaged the lowest rates of stopping drivers without a resulting penalty more serious than a warning.
Department Total stops Let go rate
Stamford 407 9%
Danbury 5476 12.5%
Hartford 8110 18.2%
Meriden 1713 19.5%
Waterbury 766 19.8%
Derby 4669 21.6%
Darien 3857 26%
Bridgeport 2816 26.2%
Trumbull 2233 27%
State Police 307153 28%

Where are women let go more than men?

Among the 2,241 officers we looked at, 817 officers (36.6 percent) let men go at a higher rate than women; 1,281 (57.2 percent) let women go at a higher rate than men. The other 143 officers (6.4 percent) let women and men go at nearly identical rates. So, in broad strokes, women get pulled over less often, and when they do get pulled over they're more likely to be let go.

Three out of four officers let men and women go at rates that were within eight percentage points. For example, an officer would fall into that category if he or she let 58 percent of women go and 50 percent of men go, or let 98 percent of men go and let 90 percent of women go. But if an officer let 60 percent of women go and 70 percent of men go, that officer would fall outside of that threshold and into the 25 percent of officers with the biggest disparities in disposition based on gender.

Just 48 officers (2.1 percent) let men and women go at rates that differed by 20 points or more. (Example: an officer who let 40 percent of men go and let 60 percent of women go would be in this category). These 48 officers with the biggest "let go" gender gaps didn't all favor women; 35 did let women go more often, but 13 let men go more often.

At the department level, there was much less variation in the gap between letting men go and letting women go. The average gap was 6 points and in 75 percent of departments the average officer's "let go" rates for men and women were within 7.4 points.

The only department with a gender gap more than 20 points was Groton Long Point, and that's based on only 104 tickets — or one officer because of the 100-ticket threshold we set.

How many officers stop women and let them go at high rates?

Finally, we wanted to see if there were officers who stopped women at a much higher rate than men, and also let women go at a much higher rate.

We found there are 67 officers (3 percent) who were among the top 25 percent in terms of pulling over women and also in the top 25 percent in terms of letting women go at a higher rate than they let men go. The following departments had three or more officers in this category: State Police (8 troopers); Greenwich (4); Berlin (3); Ridgefield (3); Guilford (3).