Thursday, April 23, 2009

It Isn't Always About Race with the Police....Get Over It!

For those of you who may read this blog and are not from the Montgomery, Alabama area, there is a "movement" going around the city (especially in the section that has a predominantly black population). The item at hand - Checkpoints by the Montgomery Alabama Police Department. I am sure that alot of people have had a horror story about contact with the police - I have two, one in Dooley County, Georgia and the other in Tijuana, Mexico. Two long stories that I would have to talk about later.

Now a little background of the Montgomery Police Department for those of you who love history. This is the same police department who on May 20, 1961, allowed an angry mob of white people to beat on the Freedom Riders after they arrived from Birmingham (where they were attacked as well); the same police department who arrested Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 for refusing to obey a city bus driver to give up her seat to a white passenger; the same police department that arrested Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 26, 1956 for driving 30 MPH in a 25 MPH zone in the city of Montgomery.

But today are better days in Montgomery. The police chief, a friend of mine, is a black man - heck even the fire chief is a black man. There is no more riding in the back of the bus (except now it is cool and by choice). Black owned businesses, black politicians, black people living in amongst other races with no fear of reprisals or threats. But some people just cannot forget the past and see that things are WAY different than before. I am not saying that there may not be pockets of disenfranchisement but not on the level brought about by this latest "movement".

Crime is visible no matter where you are or who you may be. You see it on the news, read it in the paper or online, hear it on the radio, or maybe you might even have been a victim. When the police try to take a legal proactive approach instead of reactive to law enforcement, I am all for it. Speaking from someone who is in the Loss Prevention/Security field and a father who is a police officer, any attempts to legally reduce crime is all right with me.

Now the "movement" is to protest the fact that local law enforcement is focusing these checkpoints on predominately black sections of the city, just to harass low income individuals. Not true, in my opinion. I live on the east side of town which is growing by leaps and bounds with commerce, housing, and schools. It is a "better" side town to me (but that is a matter of perspective). My belief is that the purpose of the checkpoints have been for better visibility of the police; checking driver's licenses, insurance, and registration; seeking out impaired drivers; checking for warrants and wanted persons; and monitoring seat belt usage.

My brother and I had a conversation earlier this week on this item. He works with several people who live on the west side of the city that feel they are being targeted by police at these checkpoints. I am not calling people who live on the west side ignorant but the ignorance that is projected by some of the things that were said astounded my brother. But my brother, who I have always felt to be more "militant" to the black cause, was trying to stress the fact that, it doesn't matter where they do the checkpoints, if you stuff is in order, you do not ever have to worry about the police. Now, I have to admit, my brother and I never truly faced any "racism" growing up. We never had to be mindful of our "place in society".

We both live in the same area - about 90 seconds from each other if we were speeding through the neighborhood. We have to take the same route to our homes. We have both encountered these checkpoints and have NEVER had any problems. There is also traffic details on a particular roadway to slow the drivers down that we both travel - I should know, I have gotten two tickets on that road. I am glad that the police are in our area so "the bad people" will not break into my home and take what I have worked hard for or hurt anyone in my household and I am sure that the same goes for my brother.

Just so you know, here are the stats:

126 Checkpoints in the north precinct resulted in 26 felony arrests, 112 misdemeanor arrests, 893 outstanding warrants, 14 drug cases, 1,993 traffic citations and nine seized weapons.

139 Checkpoints in the south precinct (which is where I live) led to seven felony arrests, 55 misdemeanor arrests, 583 outstanding warrants, 2,866 traffic citations and three seized weapons.

99 Checkpoints in the west precinct (which is predominately black) produced 22 felony arrests, 66 misdemeanor arrests, 835 outstanding warrants, five drug cases, 2,105 traffic citations and two seized weapons.

As you can see, the "movement" argument does not "hold water". My area gets more checkpoints than any other area. Of course, I am sure someone will spin that and say the police do that to keep the black people out or due to political pressure to keep this area safe due to commerce. Well I am a black person and I live here, they are not keeping me out.

One of the things that breaks down this "movement" is the lack of preparation prior to trying to prove a point. The information should have been researched prior to making a fuss about the issue. Now what is really sad, is some are still trying to keep it going. Why? There is no issue. The neighborhood with more white people are being "harassed" by the cops. Do you hear them complaining about it?

My only point is that all law abiding people on the west side need to embrace the police presence. I am sure they work just as hard, if not harder, than I do for their possessions. Don't you want to keep "the bad people" out of your neighborhood too? Think about it! And as far as insurance and driver's license - I have a 15 year old on the road now, if you are not supposed to be on the road because you do not have your stuff in order - so be it. I have been hit by a drunk driver, it isn't fun.

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