Stopped drivers let go about half the time June 17, 2016
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.
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:
|Department||Officer||Total stops||"Let go" rate|
These are the departments whose officers let drivers go at the highest rates.
|Department||Total stops||Let go rate|
Cops in or near cities were more strict than in smaller towns. The departments whose officers let drivers go at the lowest rates were:
|Department||Total stops||Let go rate|
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).