Thursday, August 6, 2009

Racial Profiling??? Don't Think So

In the early 1990's, working at a big car store, I became good friends with a man on my crew. We were of similar age, veterans, married, raising kids, buying a house, etc. Our primary differences were skin color and fear of the police. We often car pooled and he was always alerting me when he saw a police car. When he was driving he was always hyper alert for police cars. I got many an earful about "driving while black". We were never stopped which was a good thing. He was a daily cannabis user. I often wondered if the root of his fear was illegal activity.

During my time at this store, I came to know many police officers. We sold used cars to the county for undercover use. After a few weeks we bought them back for a few hundred less than we sold them if the cars weren't trashed. Our city police had to park in an isolated lot open to vandalism. Many wanted a cheap beater for commuting and I had many for customers. Good thing for my miscreant children. All these officers seemed focused on criminals, shitheads, dopers and drunks. Skin color was incidental. I rarely heard any racial remarks but many disparaging remarks about bad drivers, gang activity, drug dealers, ADAs and judges.

One day I was involved in a minor fender bender; the other driver swerved into me. His story, told to Sgt. K, was he was trying to miss a dog. He had other problems. His car wasn't registered to him, he didn't have proof of insurance, and his fluency in English was poor. When Sgt. K wrote him a citation, he went off. "No, you no give me ticket. No, you make insurance go up. No, you find dog owner give him ticket. No, no sign ticket. You pick on me, me Asian, you no fair to me." Talked himself into handcuffs and a ride to jail. Sgt. K was a mellow policeman, more of a peace officer than a cop, but he had his limits. The driver got arrested for being an asshole. That is what I said in court six weeks later. The judge had a few choice words for me.

I strive to treat everyone with courtesy. On the few occasions I've had to deal with Badge Heavy officers, I've kept my cool. The time and place to deal with them is with their supervisor. I've done that. It takes a little fortitude to talk to the Undersheriff or Chief. You are not in a friendly environment. If you are not prepared to take action, STFU. If you don't have the guts to deal with the problem, you are the problem. That is my position. Your mileage may vary.


Old NFO said...

Excellent points! I have had a "few" speeding tickets over the years, and always went by the advice I got from my local Sheriff MANY years ago- Keep your hands where he/she can see them walking up to the car, shut the car off, have license and registration ready. If you screwed up, don't try to talk your way out of it, it doesn't work.

I've probably gotten out of more tickets than I've actually received with that advice. I agree that most of the officers I know (of all races) don't "pick" on minorities, most of them tend to dig their own holes during the stop, especially when they try to lie/BS the officer.

Anonymous said...

What do you consider BADGE HEAVY?

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Badge Heavy is officers not following the law and making their own rules. This happened to me.
I was involved with a wealthy lady who lived in an upscale town. My beater Dodge pickup looked out of place there and one late night I was stopped on my way home from her house. The two female five foot nothing officers ordered me out of my truck with their PA and then handcuffed me for "My and their protection" with a single handcuff. I wear a size 20/36 shirt and pulling my wrists that close together behind my back hurts. It was raining and they emptied my wallet on the hood of my truck. They also searched my truck and tossed the contents of the glove box on the truck floor. They "frisked" me and gave my ball sack a good slap. They told me they stopped me because I looked out of place. Then it was, "How much have you had to drink tonight"? The situation turned ugly because I shut up; wouldn't talk. To me, being in handcuffs, was being under arrest and I damn sure was exercising my right to remain silent. After thirty minutes of standing in the rain in a thin shirt, their boss arrived. About ten minutes later I was on my way. Two days later I was in the Chief's office. Never heard back from her. Guess my offense was driving while looking poor.