In just a few months, freshman State Senator Herron Gaston has carved out a personality and policy profile buoying the credentials of the city’s legislative delegation, the largest in Connecticut.
Gaston, the city’s assistant chief administrative officer, is also a faith leader who has a law degree among his education bona fides.
Gaston and State Rep. Antonio Felipe were among the delegation members who lobbied $3.5 from the state’s Community Investment Fund based on an application submitted by the city’s development office to complete work at developer Anthony Stewart’s Honey Locust Square project in the East End, featuring a grocery store, pharmacy, healthcare facility and restaurant in a neighborhood food desert.
In the past few days Gaston also jawboned out of the Public Safety committee he chairs legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to conduct public meetings with representatives from social services and mental health agencies that serve municipalities to mitigate gun violence, as well as police officers to provide a motor vehicle driver with the reason for a traffic stop.
Last year Democratic primary voters swapped out Dennis Bradley for Gaston and veteran State Rep. Jack Hennessy for Marcus Brown, moves delighting legislative leadership in Hartford.
State Senator Herron Keyon Gaston (D-Bridgeport), Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee, led committee passage of Senate Bill 1022, ‘An Act Requiring Police Officers To Provide A Driver With The Reason For A Traffic Stop And Concerning Certain Police Officer Training,’ a bill Senator Gaston introduced this legislative session.
“It is critically important for our law enforcement to exemplify basic courtesy during any traffic stop,” said Sen. Gaston. “It is important to understand and recognize that people who look like me and who have endured the stigma of systemic and institutional injustice may have a different viewpoint than others, and this is why I will always fight to raise the level of consciousness of those in our society who are comfortable in their privilege, and to demand that the voices of minoritized communities are felt and heard, and that equity and fairness is afforded to all members in our great state and not just some. I am hopeful this legislation will allow for our officers to treat everyone regardless of zip code, background, or community with dignity while behind the wheel.”
To see Senator Gaston’s remarks from today’s hearing, you can click here.
SB 1022 will require police officers to verbally inform a motorist for the purpose of their traffic stop. Data from the Open Policing Project shows 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. This bill aims to create uniformity amongst officers and it is a step to create a space of trust between communities and law enforcement officers.
As the 10-year-anniversary of the Alvin W. Penn Act took place, named after the late state Senator Alvin W. Penn. Which 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. This bill will further address some of the racial disparities that the Alvin Penn Act started 10 years ago in this state.