Texas NAACP Launches New Effort Aimed At Stopping Racial Profiling By Police Officers
In the wake of several high profile incidents involving African-Americans and police officers, the Texas chapter for the NAACP is stepping up its efforts to limit the potential for racial profiling by local police officers. The launch of that effort is happening just days ahead of this year’s Juneteenth celebration.
NAACP Texas Chapter President, Gary Bledsoe says the cell phone footage of a white McKinney police officer pointing his handgun at a young black teenage girl and then slamming her to the ground is proof that racial profiling still exists in Texas.
“One of the things that cries out to all of us, is what is the color of each young person that they manhandled. You know the young man who is a hero, that took the video, was white and he said it was like he was invisible,” Bledsoe stressed.
Because of a bill passed by Dallas Democratic Sen. Royce West in 2001, racial profiling is against the law. It requires police departments to track the racial makeup of each person stopped by officers to see if there’s a pattern.
“What we found was that in trying to police the law after the fact, that many departments were not adhering (to the law). The way the law was written is that you had various reporting requirements, to document who is being stopped and by whom. But you would be exempted if you agree to equip all of your units with video cameras,” Bledsoe explained.
He says it’s still too easy for an officer to simply turn off an in-car or body camera and claim technical difficulties. And using these police cams does not provide arrest numbers and statistics. The Texas NAACP has sent a letter to the Department of Justice, asking that they investigate the police department in McKinney. They’re also launching an effort, beginning this summer, with local police departments to work out an effective community policing program within historically African-American communities.