Anti-Profiling Ordinance Sparks Debate in Hartford


A Hartford city councilman who says he has experienced racial profiling is now proposing an ordinance that he believes will prevent police from doing it.

"Racial profiling exists," Luis Cotto told The Hartford Courant. "It is very much a reality in this state and it is very much a reality in this city."

His ordinance would prohibit the police department from participating in intelligence-collection programs involving federal immigration agencies, military officials or private data companies. It would also ban officers from engaging in surveillance not supported by a warrant specific to the time, place and target.

"It seems like a no-brainer not to do surveillance on someone unless they are suspected of doing a crime, but in this day and age, you have to spell it out for people," Cotto told the Courant.

Some members of the Hartford Police Department have opposed the ordinance.

Chief Daryl Roberts wrote a memo to city, state and federal law enforcement officials saying the ordinance "would greatly restrict the Hartford Police Department's ability to function as a law enforcement agency and preclude us from working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners," the Courant reports. "The city of Hartford may also be at risk of losing grant funds we received from federal, state and local governments that require information sharing and agency cooperation."

During a city council meeting on Monday, Roberts also said he was taken aback because the department works hard to build public trust.

"They don't know the needs of our community," he said. "We have a great rapport and we're working hard to change the culture."

The council could vote on the issue later this fall.

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