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The Hartford Police Department has initiated the process of decertifying a former officer who admitted to falsifying traffic stop records before resigning amid an internal affairs investigation, Chief Jason Thody said in a statement Thursday. 

A regular audit of the department’s Traffic Division identified irregularities in the reported traffic stops of Officer Michael Fallon over a four week period, Thody said. 

“After being confronted by his supervisors within the Traffic Division, Officer Fallon admitted to falsifying his divisional weekly activity reports,” Thody said in the statement.

An internal affairs investigation revealed that Fallon had filed reports on 33 traffic stops that either did not occur or were inaccurately reported, over-reported stops in a department activity report, and falsely reported information on a stop related to an arrest warrant, the chief said. 

“Officer Fallon resigned before he could be interviewed and face discipline,” Thody said. “However, due to the nature of the sustained charges, the Hartford Police Department proactively notified the Police Standards and Training Council, in order to initiate the decertification process.”

Fallon is the son of Michael J. Fallon, who served as assistant chief of the Hartford Police Department until 2006. He then assumed the role of chief in the Connecticut State Capitol Police Department until his death in 2009.

News of the false traffic reports within a municipal police department comes as state and law enforcement officials continue to grapple with the ongoing fallout of a June audit by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, which concluded that years of racial profiling data had been skewed by misreported statistics from the State Police including a “high likelihood” that state troopers had falsified reporting to the board in at least 25,966 instances.

According to Thody, Hartford police brought Fallon’s misreported traffic records to the attention of Ken Barone, a member of the racial profiling board and co-author of the State Police audit. Barone determined the department’s issues were not statistically significant, Thody said. 

“The Hartford Police Department has no tolerance for conduct like this, and our process worked exactly as it should to identify discrepancies, initiate an investigation, and take swift and appropriate action when the misconduct was substantiated,” the chief said. 

The Racial Profiling Prohibition Project Advisory Board discussed the issue during a Thursday morning meeting, where Barone said analysts had been able to isolate the misreported stops in order to prevent them from impacting the project’s data. He suggested they isolate and remove all of Fallon’s stop reports, which had been “called into question” as a result of the findings. 

Although he called the news unwelcome, Barone praised the Hartford Police Department’s handling of the issue. 

“They identified the problem, they notified us in a timely manner, they conducted a thorough investigation, they isolated the records they believed to be falsified and they ultimately followed their internal affairs process,” Barone said. 

Still, members of the advisory board questioned whether the incident suggested that falsified data represented a more widespread problem among municipal police departments in Connecticut. 

“It’s important to understand the concerns that have been raised with the revelations with the documents and false reporting is not exclusive to the State Police,” Tamara Lanier, a board member and member of the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP, said. I think that it’s a problem in policing throughout Connecticut.”

While members discussed recommending more agency audits, Barone and law enforcement officials on the board said they did not believe the problem was a prevalent issue in other departments. 

“As far as I know, there’s been absolutely no issue with any data identified yet,” Cheshire Police Chief Neil Dryfe said. He pointed to the Hartford incident where the department identified the problem and took action. “This is one of the concerns that certainly the municipal chiefs have, that we’re all being painted with the same broad brush now.”

Meanwhile, West Hartford Police Chief Vernon Riddick called the likelihood of the issue being a widespread problem “miniscule but not impossible.”

Thursday’s meeting marked the first time the racial profiling advisory group met since they released the State Police audit in June. Barone said that report had resulted in a significant amount of largely negative attention paid to the project and Connecticut police officers. 

He closed out the meeting by highlighting the work of one unnamed state trooper who retired out of Troop A in Southbury and stopped 13,396 vehicles between 2014 and 2020. The trooper made more stops in the average year than 35 municipal police departments, Barone said. Of the 10,231 infractions that trooper issued, the racial profiling audit found zero discrepancies, he said. 

“There are people in this audit that tell a story of hard work, of dedication, of commitment to their job — commitment to doing it well,” Barone said, adding that people are expected to make mistakes. “As tough as the last two months have been, I do think it’s worthy of recognizing there are people like this individual out there, who deserve to be recognized.”