A local TV station recently reported that African Americans account for only 2.5 percent of Carmel residents but 33 percent of all individuals who receive traffic tickets in the city. I am an African American Carmel resident. I’m also a researcher, data analyst and former policy maker, and am certain that those numbers do not represent a statistical abnormality but instead suggest that there is a pervasive problem of racial profiling within the city’s police force which negatively impacts black residents.
In the six years that my family and I have lived in Carmel, I’ve been stopped by the police more times than makes sense to me or anyone I know. Once, while driving my young son to summer camp and my infant daughter to day care, I was stopped by an officer who asked me if I had a weapon in my car. I’d never been asked such a question before and did nothing to prompt it being asked this time.
During another incident, I was stopped by a police officer just as I was about to turn into church. When I told the officer where I was going, he followed my car into my church’s parking lot and then waited as my son and I walked into the sanctuary. It was obvious that he didn’t believe we were actually going to church.
Such blatant and wanton bias and discrimination must end if we are to truly be one of the best places to live in America. Officers need training on implicit bias and racial profiling, and our local leaders, the mayor and city council members must commit to doing something to rectify this unacceptable behavior. I’ll certainly be holding them accountable for doing so.
Danette Gerald Howard, Carmel