The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 19, 2013

Police must change tactics


DANVILLE — Having two members of my family retire from law enforcement, I fully understand the daily exposure to the dangers of the job. I must say we have some professional Danville policemen, having worked with some, and I applaud their work.

But some are a disgrace to the profession, and it seems their primary goal is to harass young, innocent, black males. Their purpose is to exert macho energy to provoke the young men to say or do something to justify using more force on them.

We should address those individuals playing loud music, causing disturbances, selling drugs, etc., but we have clean-living high school and college graduates trying to make a contribution who are thrown into the same mix. This is a flagrant abuse of power.

For example, if you saw two young black males pulled over on East Main Street about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 7, don’t be alarmed with the kids, be alarmed with the officers who swooped down on these two young men with four squad cars thinking they were drug dealers,

One of the young men was my nephew just out of high school trying to work his way to get a higher education. The other was my grandson, a seventh-grader at South View Middle School. They were passing out information for an after-school tutoring program. This was explained to the officer, but (the police) proceeded to take them out of the car, pat them down, empty their pockets, search the car and continue to harass them to the point my seventh-grade grandson was traumatized and started crying. I am sure the SWAT team did not care. They were just black kids and with no feelings.

One officer spoke harshly asking one of them a question and said to him,“When I talk to you look me in the eye.” Very few in this city will question these officers due to the old mentality that we have to start early with this kind, intimidating them to keep them in line. The mindset seems to be every black youth is guilty until the police think he is innocent.

I wish crime in this city could be stopped at all levels, from apartment complexes to city hall, but additional training is needed for the Danville police so they can recognize the difference between positive young men and thugs.

A comedian made famous the saying getting stopped for a “DWB” which means “driving while black.” But to many of our young black men trying to make a positive contribution to the city, it is no laughing matter. I have reports of police stopping our youth because they looked at the policeman; another young man, a pre-law student, was arrested on the way to church because the vehicle looked like another one (he was held for two hours); another man approached by police while letting family out at apartment, police checked ID and flashlight searched the car while children are getting out.

These are just some of the stories I know. I am sure there are more incidents and would like for those individuals to write in with their stories,

You may wonder why crime is increasing. It may be some of our police force are more comfortable intimidating innocent people than confronting the real thugs.

Allen Dixon resides in Danville.