Decatur Police Racial Profiling Investigation Could Wrap Up Next Week

'We take complaints like this very seriously.'

The results of an investigation into an alleged racial profiling incident involving Decatur Police Department officers could be completed as early as next week.

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.
Warnin ToU January 14, 2014 at 08:55 AM
The very sad part of this entire discussion is that profiling is a natural defense mechanism. When we see crime reports that include pictures of perps and 90% of those perps seem to be black, it naturally follows that one becomes a little leery of black people. The only thing that will change this perception is a dramatic reduction of black on black, black on white and black on society crime. For gosh sakes Jesse Jackson even admitted that he was leery of black male youths when he takes walks. Blaming this on the cops is scapegoating. The real criminal here is the community that doesn't uphold stands, that doesn't snitch, that doesn't cooperate with the law enforcement community. Just because Mr Denard isn't guilty of anything doesn't get him out form under the shadow the black community has created for themselves and seems to be satisfied to live with.
Brad Easter January 14, 2014 at 09:29 AM
What you failed to include in your article is that a neighbor had called the police to report a suspicious person in the area. The man was seen walking away from a house with the door partially open, police did not know who this man was nor that it was his house. is a shame that this officer is under investigation for simply following up on a call.
DecaturGrad January 14, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Warnin ToU - your comment is so misguided and uneducated that it doesn't deserve a response... Brad Easter - I've been following this story since it surfaced. Where in any of the reports does it state that a neighbor called the police on Mr. Denard? In Mr. Denard's account, the special investigator with DPD told him that SHE had seen him walking out of his driveway and called it in. Where are you getting your information from?
no2Decatur January 14, 2014 at 12:58 PM
@Warnin ToU: With that illogical thinking perhaps they should have taken in to custody the black police officer who was with him as it appears "you people" are all the same. to which you speak is small percentage of the population. statistics regarding black males are given out that intentional misleading. taking your illogical even further, 95% of child molesters are white males so we shouldn't allow you are any other white male to have or be around children.
Warnin ToU January 14, 2014 at 01:10 PM
Decaturgrad should learn to read, Warnin2U never made that statement. no2Decatur should take into consideration that illogical thinking pervades every group and thinking that is illogical makes little difference, Perception does. When you get off our high horse, then attempt to deal with perception. Any psychologist will tell you that perception IS REALITY in the minds of 99% of any populace. Your attempt to deflect perceived reality and obfuscate the issue does nothing to help solve this very serious problem.
DecaturGrad January 14, 2014 at 01:21 PM
Warnin ToU you said: " When we see crime reports that include pictures of perps and 90% of those perps seem to be black, it naturally follows that one becomes a little leery of black people." I find that to be incredibly ignorant, generalist, misguided, and uneducated. Maybe being leery of black people comes "naturally" to people like you, but to the rest of the citizens and public servants in COD, it should not be the case. Nothing gives police the right to approach and harass a citizen because of the color of the skin. At the end of the day, that's what this entire investigation is about, and NATURALLY, what the entirety of your comment was about: Skin color.
MrOpinion January 14, 2014 at 04:30 PM
It appears that all of the comments are in agreement with Mr. Denard. Based on the above rationalized comments, all have agree, in fact, that it was racial profiling. The police department is investigating this matter. Since this perception of people of color is so widespread and not by police officers only, the community at large may benefit from the published findings.
Warnin ToU January 15, 2014 at 08:30 AM
The problem is what drives perception. In this case perception has been driven by experience. Mr Denard got caught in the middle of this problem, which is regrettable, but it won't change perception. The only thing that will change perception is responsible action by the members of the black community. Wouldn't it have been a great learning experience if Mr Denard had channel his energy into an education program for the police instead of self righteous indignation. Now Mr. Denard did not cooperate with a black cop who asked to see his identification, which forced an escalation, which is costing Decatur money and doing nothing to make Decatur a safer place
DecaturGrad January 15, 2014 at 01:00 PM
@Warnin ToU so what you're saying is, "That's what you get, Mr. Denard, for being black" ?? I strongly, STRONGLY urge you to watch Mr. Denard's comments at the City Commission meeting on January 6th in their entirety. This "indignance" you wrote about is laughable. If you had chosen to educate yourself on what happened, then you would have seen and heard that Mr. Denard DID in fact demand an education/training/professional development program for the entire police force. Reading and listening is fundamental. As is education. And research. Silly Warnin ToU, it is so easy to just place all of the blame on the entirety of the Black community. Law abiding, active, tax-paying, and engaged citizens of Decatur who are Black, students at Decatur City Schools who are Black, teachers at DCS who are Black, neighbors who are Black, and former City of Decatur School Board members, such as Mr. Denard, who are Black... ALL of them are fair game to be stopped because a lot of the crime is committed by their fellow Black people? That attitude is dangerous and it is injust. Mr. Denard spoke out against this injustice and demanded action as well as an apology. And it turns out, he was speaking on behalf of SEVERAL members of this community who have felt the same injustice. So get out of here with this "self righteous indignantion" mess. DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! FULL SPEECH - Click on "Item VII" ... starts at 2:00 in) http://decaturga.swagit.com/play/01062014-628
starla January 20, 2014 at 09:04 AM
I have often watched these practices with the few remaining,young black men in Decatur.Whenever my son would walk to the store especially at night I WOULD CRINGE!!!! praying that he made it to Candler road. My family has had this property since 1941, My grandmother owned this property before passing away.My mother is now the owner We have two more generations presently living together.Decatur has the best teachers and schools but we have OUR HOUSE ON THE MARKET. We do not want to live anywhere where everyone hasto look alike(white) in order to be RESPECTED. Please help your police officers understand this. Because guess what they(police) will get you NEXT. very upset at these Practices!!!!
Brett February 09, 2014 at 02:38 PM
Notodecatur - "statistics regarding black males are given out that intentional misleading." Can you explain why the CDC would release crime statistics showing blacks lead on a per capita basis in most crime categories by a wide margin? Who are they trying to mislead and for what purpose?


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