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.
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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