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.
I get it, well I don’t. I mean, I can’t even understand how this is not a thing that cops are not required to tell the person who they are pulling over, what they are being pulled over for. I am sure such tactics are based on a fishing/profiling expedition.
I am sure everyone can agree that racial profiling contributes to a wider net, but let’s have an understanding just because Rev. Gaston is black and the white colleagues he debated on the subject matter each have their lived experience and will continue until passing/JD, don’t assume just because while the sun exposure kisses vary those with similar kisses have the same lived experience as those that look like them.
I know democratic racial identity politics calls for it but let’s be fair just like it was cops that looked like Tyer Nicholes who were black all for their life, and just because some white cops are white all their lives doesn’t mean whites don’t get caught in that police net/expedition. JS
But to be fair, you know that the “white supremacy” racial net is much wider in the urban catfish community than in the Greenwich salmon community. You know it is true when they write a song about it. 🙂
I support the measured comments of Senator Gaston on the issue of a responsibility for public safety officers to address the subject of what a traffic stop by them is all about to the driver who has followed the officer’s indication to pull over. What driver does not mentally question, “Why?” , and become frustrated when they get no or a dismissive response?
Is an accurate respectful answer provided to a citizen question required under current law to each and all citizens? Is it a part of current Bridgeport policy for training and/or retraining purpose? If not, why not? The CITY has been sued for failure of public safety officers to fully live up to their training and the City after defending such actions has lost and had to settle up WITH TAXPAYER FUNDS. I know of current actions that may have been forestalled by a simple response that was followed by full listening and subsequent enforce ment actions. They did not happen. Police power trumped common sense, respect, and likely racial reaction. Make good laws and provide oversight to see that they are carried out for everyone by all concerned. Time will tell.