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Thursday, August 12, 2010


That might just be the next logical step if Hartford City Councilman Luis Cotto has his way.

Cotto has introduced a proposed ordinance that will drastically limit the efforts of the Hartford Police Department in obtaining information and intelligence gathering.The ordinance is below for you to view.

Since when can the Hartford City Council supercede the powers given to law enforcement by State and Federal law? Do we have any confidence in our Police Department and our Police Chief to do the right thing? Unless I'm confused, Federal law trumps State law, State law trumps municipal ordinances and resolutions.

As an example, one of the dictates being placed upon our police officers by the ordinance is "Reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed may justify a cursory pat down of outer clothing for weapons but shall not justify a search, seizure or collection or retention of intelligence information".

Are you kidding me? A police officer can have a "reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed" and it ends there? No questions asked, no id shown, no further search, just a simple pat down and now be on your way courtesy of Councilman Cotto. In any other jurisdiction, apparently besides Hartford, "reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed" is known as probable cause.

Is Councilman Cotto attempting the rewrite just about every court decision that defines probable cause and a law enforcements right to proceed once that basic and necessary element has been established?

Why don't we just handcuff the police officers now and get it over with. The "collection or retention of intelligence information" after stopping someone is known as an "FI Card".The "FI Card" stands for Field Interview and is filled out by an officer after a contact with an individual on the street.

A police source familiar with the procedure stated that the FI cards are invaluable and that an alert officer filling out the card often leads to identifying suspects involved in crime trends. The source even stated that on at least one occasion a homicide suspect was identified through an FI card and someone being able to connect the dots to the suspects activities.

Maybe under Cotto's proposal we can do away with "intelligence gathering" and instead issue all Hartford Police officers their own crystal ball. It would probably do about as much good when it comes to Public Safety as this ordinance will.

I'm already prepared for those that will throw out the term racist and racism and claim that I have no idea what racial profiling feels like and the rest of the garbage that accompanies nonsense legislation like this. Illegal immigration is the elephant in the room that no one wants to speak about. Notice I didn't say "immigration", I specifically said "illegal immigration". If you don't follow the process and you are here illegally, you are a criminal, no matter what the reason. Someone robbing a bank because they need money and haven't eaten in days and are on the streets is still a criminal, no matter what the circumstances.

For hundreds of years people have been heading to the shores of what became the United States. There is a process, a legal and systematic process, for those wishing to enter our country and become citizens. My relatives did it, legally, and just about everyone reading this has done it legally or their relatives and ancestors did it legally. Some were forcibly brought to this country, but none the less, they hold the title of US citizen.

What's wrong with following and enforcing the process? I am reluctant to connect violent crime to illegal immigrants, we do well enough with violent crime committed by US citizens. I think most "illegal immigrants" actually come here for the same reason my ancestors did, and for the same reasons those following the process to become legal citizens arrive here. Quite simply, for a better life and to live in a great country like the US.

There is a process to enter this country legally and if Cotto or others don't agree with the procedure, then work to change that. Tying the hands of law enforcement only endangers those that are here legally and encourages more illegal immigration to sanctuary cities like Hartford.

Concilman Cotto might need to be reminded of the oath of office he took when he became a councilperson a major part of which he swore to "uphold the Constitution of the United States". Where does undermining State and Federal law enforcement efforts to enforce laws on the books play into "upholding the Constitution"?

This proposal is pure nonsense and is nothing short of pandering to a specific audience. I would hope that any law enforcement agent that is not allowed to do their job when necessary as required by law as result of this ordinance, if passed, will remember another law also on the books. It is called "Obstruction of Justice" or the lesser charge of "Interfering with a Police Officer", which is exactly what this proposed ordinance is all about.

It would be interesting to see what our new Corporation Counsel and Mayor thinks of the legality of this proposal.

Please turn out Monday night for the Council Hearing on this wonderful proposed legislation.

Cotto's Proposed Intelligence Ordinance 8-11-10-1


peter brush said...

Thanks, Kevin, for posting the proposed ordinance. Unlike the cops, Mr. Cotto appears to have too much time on his hands. I'd be interested to hear him enumerate the incidents that have caused him to be concerned about over-aggressive police intelligence gathering. His priorities are clearly out of whack. We should be encouraging the cops to be as aggressive as possible in cleaning up the streets, not demanding that they spend time providing information on their intelligence-gathering to "litigants who allege discriminatory profiling." Cotto views the municipal government as oppressive of his constituencies; racial identity groups including illegal Latino immigrants. It'd be nice to get someone on the council whose commitment is to the city as a whole, who might support the cops against the criminal element.

peter brush said...

What happened to articles i-iii of Cotto's "ordinance to protect the focus of the HPD to their core public safety mission...?" Back in June the Advocate quoted Cotto:
“There’s no doubt there is racial profiling within police departments everywhere in the state, including Hartford,” he says. Really? No doubt? Back in 1999 John Bailey issued a report on the question and stated, "Based on traffic stops data minority drivers do not appear to be treated differently than non-minority drivers." I'm not even sure it's possible to do racial profiling around here, as we don't have much in the way of people of pallor in whose favor the cops might discriminate. I gather he intends to get input from Chief Roberts. I will be extremely disappointed if Roberts is not critical.

Bruce Rubenstein said...

Mr Cotto's proposal while I am sure is well intended appears to be in violation of some articles of our state constitution.If the Council passes this resolution I am sure a lawsuit with a restraining order would prevail to stop the implamentation of his proposal

peter brush said...

Bailey's report:"Based on traffic stops data minority drivers do not appear to be SYSTEMATICALLY treated differently than non-minority drivers."

Luis E. Cotto said...

Mr. Brush, it's unfortunate that you are used to reactionary politics so that people have to list specific incidents. But if I used that as an impetus for everything I proposed, I would have a bank vault's worth of examples and then some.

The provisions regarding data collection actually mirror the states own Penn Act (Sec 54-1) So I'm sure you'll echo your sentiments on a state level hoping for representatives whose commitment is to the state as a whole. should probably know this more than most considering it's your backyard. This is not only an issue for undocumenteds. How many lily white people have been stopped in the northend or frog hollow under the suspicion of buying drugs? We don't know do we? This ordinance will require the collection of data to establish that.

By the way, if you continue reading that same Advocate article, you'll see where police officers are quoted saying that there is still a problem.


Councilman Cotto,

Although I find your ordinance unnecessary and purely pandering to a specific group you are trying to endear yourself to, I find your disdain for the caucasian members of our community even more offensive. Do you not find your term "lily white" offensive? Do you also refer to African Americans by their degree of "blackness"? I doubt it because you know that is also unacceptable and racist. Please remember you represent the city's population in its entirety, not just specific groups you relate to.

peter brush said...

How many lily white people have been stopped in the northend or frog hollow under the suspicion of buying drugs? We don't know do we? This ordinance will require the collection of data to establish that.
It's a waste of time to count the lily white guys. Who cares? If they are breaking the law let the cops deal with them. If you have evidence of rampant violation of "human rights" by our cops, let's hear about it. In the mean time, don't burden them with a lot of politically correct paper work. The victims of crimes around here are, by and large, not white. As you undoubtedly know, not many whites, even progressives like yourself, are willing to subject themselves to the social conditions in our fair town (or to your brand of governance).

peter brush said...

used to reactionary politics so that people have to list specific incidents
Reactionary politics = rational analysis based on evidence? Exactly what do you base yours on? On what basis would you impose a burden on the police doing their best(in a bureaucratic governmental context) to keep the streets under a semblance of control?
I am surprised that "lily" has only one "l" in the middle. Just doesn't look right, but in that you are correct.
By the way, is the name "Lillany" related to the flower? God bless her and her family. How about you spend a bit of your tiempo addressing the crime problem?

Matt said...

Well said Peter.

Mr.Cotto, right now I don't think your purposed ordinance has a lot of worth. First, most of it is already federal law. Second, I don't know how the data gathering of "stops" are going to be used.

Could you please tell us how the data will be used once it's collected? If you don't mind could you answer this from two perspectives.

1) the data is shown to be statistically "fair" based on Hartford demographics.

2) the data is shown to be statistically "unfair" based on Hartford demographics.

We will assume the data itself isn't manipulated to serve either agenda.

Thank You.

Lilliana said...

OMG. I done tole y'all already that Cotto is a moron, or is it more on?

peter brush said...

I'm looking at the ordinance again today. What is the deal, Councilman Cotto? Do we begin at Article iv because you cut and pasted the thing from another town's code? The Acorn handbook?
There is more to it than the racial profiling matter. It extends the scope of our pd's non-cooperation with the Feds as begun with the sanctuary city ordinance Mr. Cotto got through a couple of years ago. On top of our current directive that the cops not cooperate with INS we would direct them not to cooperate with the Feds in counter-terrorism, at least in counter-terrorism that offends the sensibilities of our progressive community. I doubt the Hartford cops have been asked to cooperate much with the military, et al, so again, what is the emergency here. To the extent that there is none we have more in the way of lefty posturing like with the condemnation of Arizona. But, the law as presented is pretty complicated, and requires that the cops be trained in its operation. Why waste their time and energy? And, by the by, some of us are of the (reasonable) opinion that enemy combatants are not entitled constitutional protections available to those of us who are actually socially contracted with one another. Some of us have the (reasonable) opinion that the constitution's rights are not absolute even for those of us who actually love our country. But, putting aside whether we would have the Hartford cops more or less aggressive in the war on terror, the ordinance has implications for local law enforcement. For example, do we really want to limit our cops' asking for id to those occasions when criminal activity is suspected?
But, going back to the racial profiling bit, my favorite item is the requirement that our cops after "any stop" (stop, mind you, not arrest) have to report on what they perceive to have been the religion of the person stopped. That should be good fun. I don't think even our existing racial/ethnic discrimination mandates in hiring and contracting include preferences and set-asides for religious groups. How progressive we would be.

peter brush said...

Speaking of our dandy sanctuary city ordinance:
If Hartford mayor Eddie Perez signs an ordinance sent to him by the city council, the Connecticut state capital will be the latest to join the list of cities that are obstructing the identification of criminal aliens, and almost certainly endangering their residents in the process. The ordinance forbids city police from arresting illegal aliens they encounter who are the subject of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) administrative warrant. What the council doesn’t realize (or maybe they do and don’t care) is that a very significant share of these individuals are actually dangerous criminals. It is unclear what public safety purpose could possibly be served by making sworn law enforcement officers ignore warrants issued by a federal law enforcement agency.
Say what you want about him, and the council/mayor, their first priority is not public safety.

peter brush said...


Calla Lily said...

Peter, there's a nice cabin in Lincoln, Montana that you maybe should move to.

peter brush said...

Thanks, Calla. I'm thinking of moving to Mexico, and re-immigrating to a Yanqui city with plenty of benefits. Montana is nice though, at least it was when I last hitch-hiked through there in 1975. How about you, wouldn't you agree that Hartford is New England's Rising Star, especially after Felon Perez and his Amigos have enhanced the rate of home ownership here? If I were you I wouldn't think about living anywhere else.

peter brush said...

"Calla Lily." Sounds Catholic to me.

Matt said...

I'm still waiting for Mr. Cotto to explain how the data will be used.

If you're going to pass a law that places a "cost" (man hours to generate your data) on the tax payers let's hear what the payoff is for that cost.

Were waiting Mr. Cotto .....

Bruce Rubenstein said...

Luis...i am as interested as you in progressive accomplishments,resolutions and ordinances.The term you use, "lilly white" is offensive,borderline racist and saddens me at a time when Hispanics are the majority population in Hartford.While I do not believe you are racist at all, I do believe that you poor choice of words hurts your image as a progressive and will set back relations among races if it is widely picked up in the media.

By way of example Luis...when the white's were in the majority and if someone on the Council used a derogatory term to describe hispanics..they would have been labeled a racist and vilified in the community...please clean up your language in the future.

Natalia said...

Note to all: Per the U.S. Census, White is a "race" and hispanic is an "ethnicity". Therefore, there are white hispanics, black hispanics, and "other" (mixed race) hispanics.

Oh, and BTW, if you have one Catholic parent and one Jewish parent, and you observe both religions in the home, what are you, and how will the HPD categorize this in Mr. Cotto's ordinance?

Mr. Cotto needs to concentrate on solving the city's real problems, e.g., the financial situation, instead of engaging in exercises in futility. My friends and neighbors do NOT plan on voting for him if he decides to run for re-election...

peter brush said...

Nothing for nothig:
For the record, I've never taken offense personally or as a member of the American/American community at the term "lily white." I know my tone in commenting on Luis' proposed law has been borderline harsh, I do not accuse him of "racism," but would have him and the adults who may be involved downtown say, "uh, NO!," to the ordinance. If Roberts opinion is asked I'll have indigestion and lose sleep, not because I'm worried so much about the practical effects (e/a?), but because it would say about the competence of our guys. I don't have expertise on these matters, but my experience with the fire guys has been "A," and cops "B-." I would have Luis and his associates down there strive to improve public safety, but I really resent paying taxes to guys who deliberately make public safety a junior concern to political correctness.

peter brush said...

If Roberts opinion is asked I'll have indigestion and lose sleep... if he signs on to this pointless play.

Luis Cotto said...

My my, and a good weekend to all of you as well.

I'll just jump in if y'all don't mind.

1) Lily White (thanks for confirming the spelling Mr. Brush) I come from a culture, er ethnicity which does make a practice of referring to shades when talking to color. Negro, Moreno, Cimarron, TrigueƱo, Mulatto, Blanco, Blanquito, Cocolo (this also refers to those who love salsa) are all separate degrees/ shades of skin color. I never got the email that said "Lily White" was a derogatory term. But it's convenient to focus on that and not focus on the point. This ordinance effects people of all colors because they all get profiled. I'll restate my example: There is ample anecdotal evidence where white people (see...somehow it just looses its uumph with just white...but whatever) are stopped in non-white neighborhoods under the suspicion of buying narcotics.

2) Natalia...I guess it depends on what religion the mother and what religion is the father. By Jewish law, religion is passed down by the mom. So, if my mom was Jewish, by Jewish law, so am I. But that has nothing to do with the ordinance in spirit or letter. The ordinance calls for the officer to record the PERCEIVED race, religion, etc...

and here's the kicker (are you listening Matt?) This is all state law. Hence my mention of the Penn Act in my earlier comment. I take it no one has looked it up. So, this is all information that should already be recorded per state law and no one is doing it.

3) Matt, if you keep the above in context, I'll try to answer your question. Accumulated data will begin to identify patterns. If aggregate data reveals that an overwhelming percentage of Muslim males are being stopped in Hartford, one would assume we have a

INTERMISSION -Mi Gente, newsflash...profiling happens. To think that it doesn't means that you are living in la la land with the lights turned off and your head under the blanket and a pillow.

4) Chief Roberts - Peter, what self respecting Police Chief would go for this? Not many I would say, and our esteemed Police Chief is no different. Please read no sarcasm in my description of him...I hold our Chief in the highest esteem and we get along and work well together. Like many of the initiatives I propose, I try to make sure there's a transparent mechanism for anyone to follow. In this case it's a google group that was created when we first started the conversation. That URL is ( On that group you will find Chief Roberts letter to Corp Council stating his objection to the ordinance which is both fine and anticipated. This ordinance will go through a regular committee process where all angles will be discussed.

5) "Cut n Paste from another town's ordinance." Not really. Working with a number of local, state and national groups on this and actually Hartford is the first city proposing this. So, believe it or not, I encourage this dialogue and am taking notes. I want the best possible policy to move forward.

6) Yes, Peter, it does restate what we put in place with the Immigration Ordinance (which passed 9-0 and I don't think you liked that either)

what else...

A quick scan again of the comments begs me to restate this. The collection of data is state law. It is already a requirement. Like it or not Peter and Matt, the cops have to do it and this is just us reiterating it.

OK...I'm audi. I'll come back and skim the multitude of curses thrown at me but know that I won't be able to sit down and reply til about Wednesday. So, Matt, don't take it personal. But, as always, anyone is free to yell at me in person at 860.539.4310.

peter brush said...

Good of you to respond. I'm heartened to hear Roberts is opposed. If gathering data on , for example, perceived religion is already state law, why duplicate? Now, do you really want us to be concerned about profiling of the handful of whites who may be seen on Albany Ave. or up at the corner of Putnam Park? I'm not.
No mention of the anti-counter-terror non-cooperation aspects of the ordinance.
Bottom line, the ordinance does nothing to make it easier for our cops to try to control our streets.

Matt said...

Mr. Cotto glad to see you respond.

My question was what do you and the city have planned to do if the data gathering shows it has a problem? To just say it shows we have a problem is not a solution.

As far as data gathering already being state law under the Penn Act (54-1) you are completely misrepresenting that law or you simply read it wrong.

The law states the data gathering is required only for motor vehicle stops and HPD already does this and the forms are sent to the state who generate the statistics. As far as I know there have been no negative patterns reported back to Hartford.

Cut and paste the link below to read the entire law for yourself and show me where it says it's required to gather this data for all police interactions besides a traffic stop? Read 54-1m : Data Collection and Reporting.

Luis Cotto said...

Peter and Matt,

Good Mornign...

Peter...My intent is not to make it easier for our cops to control our streets, but to refocus their attention on their core service in this day and age of dwindling funds.

Since 9/11, the federal Government has enacted legislation upon legislation which continually encroach upon the 4th amendment rights of the people. (ie Patriot Act) These all require certain actions by our own municipal forces which tie up time and money. My hope is to have that conversation and, in the process, enact legislation which will save us money in the long run.

Matt, You obviously know a little something about the Penn Act. What you and I do not know is what is the breath of our Dept's participation. That question will be asked at committee. You also probably know that the recording entity for the Penn Act is the African American Affairs Commission who has stated that they are in fact not receiving said data from most departments.

The ordinance calls for a rite of action of an individual, so there is a consequence of a lawsuit upon the municipality if found to be in violation.

If not profiling because it's the right thing to do is not enough for some, maybe the threat of a lawsuit is.


Matt said...

Or is it possible you forgot to state in the proposed city ordinance that the data gathering applies to traffic stops only. Which again is already being done.

I have to be honest Mr. Cotto this is looking like pandering, as Kevin stated, but I'm trying to stay open minded and hear you out.

Matt said...

Wow, way to not answer any of my questions.

Did you read the law, it's for TRAFFIC STOPS ONLY.

As far as the African American affairs Commission not getting the forms, you need to follow that up with the Chief. It does not require a new redundant ordinance.

Ken KRayeske said...

While I appreciate the tenor of Council Cotto's ordinance, as much as I want it to be true, I believe that it will not pass.

Chief Roberts' opposition to the Fusion Center tracking ordinance should be expected, considering he sits on the statewide governance board for the CT Intelligence Center ("CTIC"). He attends meetings regularly, perhaps as frequently as monthly.

As it stands now, we have no idea of what information the HPD collects and shares with CTIC, or what exactly CTIC does and how it communicates with HPD. I respect Council Cotto's attempts to prevent Hartford from participating in CTIC, although I do not think is possible given the homeland security culture and the threat of losing federal funds.

Rather, I would prefer to see an ordinance or series of hearings demanding transparency out of Hartford's participation in CTIC. How many hours do we spend? How many officers are assigned? How much does CTIC cost to participate in? What results do we have to show for HPD involvement in CTIC, other than the arrest of a political activist on January 3, 2007?

For those not familiar with the situation, I am that political activist who was targeted by CTIC and the HPD and the state police for my political speech activities.

To date, my arrest is the only achievement that CTIC can show, and it is not a great moment of data collection and law enforcement information gathering.

When we fail to discern the difference between dissent and danger, we have failed. While Council Cotto's ordinance attempts to do this, I think because of the opposition shutting the Fusion Center down, we should attempt to find out how the fusion center works, and what exactly it is doing. Transparency should be a goal here.

Ken Krayeske