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CT court hears arguments over release of names of troopers implicated in ticket scandal

Connecticut State Police Colonel Stavros Mellekas (right) and Lieutenant Colonel Mark Davison enter a forum in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford addressing a state police traffic audit that showed thousands of falsified traffic stops over a 7-year period.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Connecticut State Police Colonel Stavros Mellekas (right) and Lieutenant Colonel Mark Davison enter a forum in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on July 26, 2023 addressing a state police traffic audit that showed thousands of falsified traffic stops over a 7-year period.

A Connecticut judge is considering whether or not to grant a request from the Connecticut State Police Union to block the release of names of troopers alleged to have falsified records as part of an ongoing ticket scandal.

Superior Court Judge Rupal Shah on Tuesday heard arguments from attorneys representing the union, the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, the state’s Freedom of Information Commission, and multiple media outlets who are seeking the information.

Union attorney Jeffrey Ment told the court he believes it improper to release the names at this time because it could endanger the troopers, some of whom may not have acted improperly.

“It seems abundantly unsafe to disclose names of people who next week, next month, may be cleared,” Ment argued.

Ment cited a Facebook comment encouraging violence against troopers as evidence the disclosure could put named police officers at risk.

Attorneys for the other parties argued the court lacked jurisdiction to block the name disclosures, citing statute that delegates public records determinations to the Freedom of Information Commission.

“An injunction prohibiting the defendants from disclosing public records would contravene the legislature’s determination that disputes over public records should be resolved by the Commission in the first instance,” attorney Kevin Munn, representing the commission, wrote in a brief filed with the court.

The state police scandal was triggered by a June audit report from the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, which found it likely that troopers falsified tens of thousands of traffic stop records, skewing racial profiling data. The matter is under investigation by multiple entities, including the U.S. Department of Justice. Another independent investigation was commissioned by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and is being led by Connecticut's former U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly.

Chris Polansky joined Connecticut Public in March 2023 as a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in Hartford. Previously, he’s worked at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, as a general assignment reporter; Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as an anchor and producer for All Things Considered; and at Public Radio Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., where he both reported and hosted Morning Edition.