Herron Keyon Gaston

State Senator

Herron Keyon Gaston

Deputy Majority Leader

Empowering Communities, Driving Change

May 11, 2023

Senator Gaston Leads State Senate Passage on Police Traffic Stops

Today, state Senator Herron Keyon Gaston (D-Bridgeport), Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee, lead State Senate passage of a bill that requires police officers to inform drivers of the reason for a traffic stop and encourage additional police officer trainings on de-escalation, use of force, customer service, diversity, and bias.

Senate Bill 1022, ‘An Act Requiring Police Officers To Inform Drivers Of The Purpose Of A Traffic Stop,” authored and introduced by Senator Gaston, passed the State Senate with a unanimous vote and now heads to the House of Representatives.

“Today I am proud to be a voice for people who look like me,” said Sen. Gaston. “This bill is intended to make sure each and every person is treated with dignity and respect, even if they are pulled over. We need to hold officers accountable. They need to be transparent when pulling over a driver, no matter the reason.”

SB 1022 will require police officers to verbally inform a motorist for the purpose of their traffic stop. Currently in Connecticut, an officer does not have to tell you why you are being pulled over, they can ask you for your ID during a traffic stop. Too many officers take advantage of this, and it is unacceptable for drivers to be pulled over just because they are Black.,/p>

Research shows police officers stop Black drivers more often than White drivers. The Open Policing Project states on a typical day in the U.S., police officers conduct more than 50,000 traffic stops, with officers generally stopping Black drivers at a higher rate than white drivers. A study done in 2020 shows Black drivers were 20 percent more likely to be stopped than white drivers, and Black drivers were searched about 1.5 to 2 times as often as white drivers.

In September 2022, the 10-year-anniversary of the Alvin W. Penn Act took place, named after the late state Senator Alvin W. Penn. This is Connecticut’s anti-racial profiling law that prohibits any law enforcement agency from stopping, detaining, or searching any motorist when the stop is motivated solely by considerations of the race, color, ethnicity, age, gender or sexual orientation of that individual. Alvin Penn was a hero who fought for our rights.