State Police Traffic Stops are Down, Union Says So is Morale

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Traffic enforcement fell off a cliff over the past year, but the head of the state police union and lawmakers disagree on what’s happening and what to do to fix it.

“You’re complaining that activity is down and fatalities are up, that’s what happens when activity is down,” Andrew Matthews, a retired police sergeant and head of the Connecticut State Police Union, says.

Matthews says traffic enforcement is down because morale is down.

“Troopers morale is at an all-time low because of the lack of the feeling they’re supported. They’re worried about civilian complaints, internal affairs investigations, discipline, the inspector general’s office,” Matthews says. 

All of those rules tightened in the police accountability law, which was a response to the death of George Floyd.

“Everybody claims cops are racist and they’re making motor vehicle stops based on race. It’s not in our opinion, if we had that in our agency we would get rid of people, but that’s not true,” Matthews says.  

Rep. Maria Horn, who co-chairs the legislature’s Public Safety Committee, says she wants to see the data before drawing any conclusions.

“I have yet to see proof that that’s happening but you know data is important and we’ll keep looking at it,” she says. 

COVID and staffing are also a problem.

“COVID is the leading cause of police deaths nationwide so it definitely affected law enforcement engagement and we know that,” Horn says. 

“There are a few things that need to be addressed so the officer feels they can go and do their job,” Rep. Greg Howard, who is also a police officer, says. 

Howard says the police accountability law and understaffing are contributing to low morale.

“The police bill is a piece of it, the rhetoric around the country is a piece of it, staffing is a piece of it,” he says. 

“There is still a concern in this state, police officers expressed to me all the time of the police bill and the impact it’s going to have on their job,” he says. 

He says traffic enforcement will go up if that happens.

“When police officers morale is high and they are willing to go out and work hard, then you’re going to see an increase in traffic enforcement,” he added. 

But they will be there when you call. 

“When you call me, we will respond, we will do our job,” Matthews says.

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