Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Racial profiling by Utah Highway Patrol? Maybe, but...

From a hospital bed (in true blogger spirit), VOU2 pointed out a story about Sherida Felders alleging racial profiling when a Utah Highway Patrol officer not only ticketed her for speeding, but had her get out of the car, asked her about drugs, made her wait for a drug-sniffing dog to arrive, and took a screwdriver to parts of her car, all for naught.

Was she profiled? Probably. Was it racial? Hard to say. We suspect it may have been a DUM stop - Driving while Unlike Me. One of us has a relative who supplements his regular income by transporting cars cross country. He is white, but has a pony tail. Not surprisingly for someone who drives 50,000+ miles a year, he sometimes gets stopped for speeding.

More often than not, he gets the same treatment as Ms. Felders: First, he is asked about drugs. Then he is asked for permission to search the car. Because these are other people's cars with unknown histories, he was advised by an attorney years ago not to consent to searches. Sometimes the cops, knowing they have nothing other than "pony-tail probable cause," begrudgingly let him go. Sometimes they make him wait for a drug dog. One time he was handcuffed and locked in the back of a cop car for hours while they waited. Nothing has ever been found.

He's not African American, but is he being profiled? Oh, yeah. One of us has been pulled over for speeding a few times, including the same drug alley where Ms. Felders was stopped, and has been sent off with nary a question about drugs or having to wait for Scooby Doober. Imagine that . . . .

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