Fairfield’s Response to IMRP Traffic Stop Data Analysis & Findings

Fairfield is a robust and complex community.  We are a town located adjacent to a major city with two large universities, three train stations along the Metro-North New Haven line and two major thoroughfares, I-95 and Route 15, that bifurcate our community. We are a community that actively recruits, publicizes and invites others to enjoy the shopping, dining, beaches and cultural experiences Fairfield has to offer. We serve our residents and all who visit or travel through our community equally.  Our mission is to Keep Fairfield Safe and we will continue to accomplish this mission with the same professionalism, honor, and excellence our community has enjoyed since the Police Department’s inception in 1930.

In the coming days, the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP) will release their analysis of traffic stop statistics from 2017.  During this period, Police Officers in the Town of Fairfield conducted 8,320 traffic stops.  The IMRP analysis claims to have found a disparity in the number of minorities stopped in several communities, including Fairfield, during this time.  We have reviewed the report and take issue with the methodology used, particularly how the stop data is analyzed solely against our town’s demographics according to the 2010 census data.  We strongly believe that Fairfield’s driving population is inconsistent with census demographics thus creating a statistical disparity, not a racial disparity. We are engaged in efforts to substantiate this position utilizing “blind” technology including License Plate Recognition (LPR) system data in various census tracts in Fairfield.

In an effort to deploy our resources in the most efficient manner, we consider the times and locations where our data shows a propensity for accidents, criminal activity and citizen complaints.  As recognized in the report, “police presence may be greater where traffic volume is higher as the result of common factors that draw people into a community such as employment and entertainment.  Traffic enforcement actions are likely to be more prevalent in locations that attract greater police presence due to some of these factors.” 

One role of law enforcement is to make every effort to keep our roadways safe. In addition to reducing the hazardous driving behaviors noted in the report, it is also important to ensure vehicles traveling on our roadways comply with equipment requirements and are appropriately registered and insured.

The Fairfield Police Department contends the actual driving population of Fairfield is not accurately depicted throughout the report. As mentioned in the report, “Route 1 acts as one of Fairfield’s main thoroughfares where a significant portion of the town’s business and commercial activity is located.” Additionally, Black Rock Turnpike and areas near the City of Bridgeport also contain many of Fairfield’s commercial businesses. These areas significantly impact the demographics of the driving population which is substantially different than shown in the 2010 census data utilized in the report.

In reviewing the report, we found value to the information provided as it relates to the data collected from our Officers during traffic stops. This has prompted us to take advantage of training opportunities to ensure we are recording the most accurate data possible.

The men and women of the Fairfield Police Department remain dedicated to maintaining a safe community and strive to achieve that mission through professionalism, honor and excellence. The insight provided in the report will allow us to continue this mission and we look forward to working with the IMRP and community stakeholders in order to maintain transparency and accountability in the community we serve.