The Justice Department found that the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) in North Carolina operates in a practice of discriminatory policing, specifically targeting Latinos.
Policing Practices in Violation of the Constitution and Federal Law
By using methods that discriminate against Latinos, ACSO has violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; the Fourth Amendment; the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act; and Title VI. ACSO’s modes of discriminatory policing are as follows:
- ACSO deputies target Latino drivers for traffic stops;
- A study of ACSO’s traffic stops on three major county roadways found that deputies were between four and 10 times more likely to stop Latino drivers than non-Latino drivers;
- ACSO deputies routinely locate checkpoints just outside Latino neighborhoods, forcing residents to endure police checks when entering or leaving their communities;
- ACSO practices at vehicle checkpoints often vary based on a driver’s ethnicity. Deputies insist on examining identification of Latino drivers, while allowing drivers of other ethnicities to pass through without showing identification;
- ACSO deputies arrest Latinos for minor traffic violations, while issuing citations or warnings to non-Latinos for the same violations;
- ACSO uses jail booking and detention practices, including practices related to immigration status checks, that discriminate against Latinos;
- The sheriff and ACSO’s leadership explicitly instruct deputies to target Latinos with discriminatory traffic stops and other enforcement activities;
- The sheriff and ACSO leadership foster a culture of bias by using anti-Latino epithets; and
- ACSO engages in substandard reporting and monitoring practices that mask its discriminatory conduct. (source)
The Justice Department’s inquiry allowed for a thorough investigation, comprising of a detailed analysis of ACSO policies, procedures, training materials and records on traffic stops, arrests, citations, vehicle checkpoints and other archived evidence. For the inquiry, the Justice Department also interviewed former ACSO employees and Alamance County residents.
In order to reform ACSO’s discriminatory policing, the police department must accept structural and fundamental change by creating and employing new policies, procedures, and training so as to promote constitutional policing. ACSO must also be held accountable for their actions, and guarantee the Justice Department that any unlawful bias has been eradicated. The Justice Department will request a court-enforced, written document that will help to solve ACSO’s violations.
See you in my next blog.
Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA
Lowenbaum Partnership, LLC
St. Louis, Missouri
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
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