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Lamont calls for independent probe of ‘fake’ ticket scandal

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(The Center Square) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is calling for an independent probe of claims that state police troopers may have issued motorists hundreds of “fake” tickets.

Lamont said on Wednesday that he plans to hire a private law firm to investigate the allegations, outlined in an audit by a state-funded group that reviews police records to look for racial bias in law enforcement activities.

“It’s time for the independent investigators to get to the bottom of this,” Lamont told reporters at a briefing. “We’ve got to do everything we can to build up the credibility for our state police who are so invaluable to what we do.”

The move comes in response to a recent audit by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, a state-funded group that reviews police records for racial profiling trends, which found that state police may have falsified more than 25,000 tickets between 2014 and 2021.

The report said another 32,500 records during those years showed “inaccuracies” in the citations that the group’s auditors believe may have been inappropriately issued to motorists.

The audit’s findings revealed “significant” numbers of fake and inaccurate tickets were submitted by at least one-quarter of the 1,301 troopers who wrote tickets during those years.

State police officials have noted that troopers weren’t issuing fake tickets to motorists but entering bogus citations into the agency’s database to make it appear as if they were doing their jobs.

Shortly after the audit was released, Lamont tapped the Office of Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing by state troopers.

But critics have noted that after nearly a year of investigation, the office has yet to bring charges against any of the officers, with the statute of limitations to file criminal charges running out. That has prompted calls for an independent investigation.

Under state law, Connecticut law enforcement officers must document demographic information about people they pull over and ticket and transmit that data to the group for analysis.

Last year, a Hearst Connecticut Media Group investigation uncovered internal records showing Connecticut state police investigators in 2018 discovered four troopers had entered more than 630 “fake” tickets into the state police computer system.

The troopers were disciplined internally, the investigation revealed but were allowed to remain on the job, and the phony ticket scandal wasn’t publicly disclosed.

State lawmakers plan to hold a hearing next week to discuss the allegations in the recent audit, while groups such as Black Lives Matter plan to hold demonstrations calling for the officers to be held accountable.

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