Deputy Police Chief Keith Lee told Decatur-Avondale Estates Patch the investigation into the Dec. 15, 2013 incident is ongoing and that department takes these allegations seriously.
In a letter to Decatur Police Chief Mike Booker, Don Denard, who served as a member of the City Schools of Decatur Board, outlined the incident in which he said he was stopped by an officer.
Denard, who is black, who recounted the alleged incident last week to the Decatur City Commission.
“December 4, 1997 was declared ‘Don Denard Day’ by the Decatur City Commission for my years of service on the school board,” Decaturish reported, citing Booker's letter.
“However, the luster of that honor bestowed on me as an elected public official wore off on December 15, 2013 due to the degrading experience I suffered at the hands of the police on my street, in my neighborhood, in the city of Decatur.”Denard alleges he was on a walk down his own street — South Candler Street — when a Decatur police officer, who also is black, stopped him and asked for identification.
That followed a white officer's call for police after seeing Denard leave his home.
When Denard refused the black officer's request for identification, telling the policeman he hadn't done anything wrong, two other officers — one black and the other white — came to their location.
Denard said he wants an apology.
Lee, the department's deputy police chief, said the agency is doing a thorough review.
"We take complaints like this very seriously," he told Patch. "We're going to cover it with a fine-tooth comb."
Asked what changes the department might enact in the wake of the allegations, Lee said he couldn't say until determining if any of the officers' actions were improper.
Lee, who said the DPD is about 25 to 30 percent black, forbids racial profiling and that officers must take a yearly course on the matter.
Racial profiling, stopping someone solely on the basis of race or racial stereotypes, has been a thorny issue for police departments nationwide as well as the courts.
Though many departments prohibit the practice, which has received renewed attention with the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy, deciding when someone's rights have been violated is tricky.
The 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mandates citizens are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures and the 14th Amendment affords everyone equal protection under the law.
But the U.S. Supreme Court in some of its rulings has said some police actions with race or ethnicity taken into consideration is constitutional.
That's given police some leeway in following, stopping or frisking people suspected of criminal activity.
Still, a number of lawsuits filed across the country suggest minorities are more likely to be racially profiled even in situations where they're less likely to be doing something wrong.
Indeed, following racial profiling allegations against the New Jersey State Police in the 1990s, the state agreed to a federal consent degree in 1999 and monitoring of its practices by Washington until 2009.
According to the statistics released by New Jersey State Police in 2000 following a lawsuit regarding automobile stops on the New Jersey Turnpike, black drivers accounted for 70 percent of the searches, even though they were 17 percent of state population.
The results also showed that white motorists were stopped at dramatically lower rates, even though the state police's own data showed they were slightly more likely to have illegal items in their possession than black drivers.