An Evanston pastor met with Glencoe village officials Monday over a racial profiling claim. Glencoe Police Chief Michael Volling does not believe any prejudice occurred. Both sides are preparing for another meeting July 25 and the possibility of a lawsuit has not yet been ruled out.
Rev. Dr. Michael James of Evanston and George Mitchell, the Evanston NAACP President, met with Glencoe Village President Paul Harlow and Volling for approximately an hour Monday to near the intersection of Sheridan Road and Hogarth Lane where James was issued a ticket for bicycling in a construction zone. James claims that several other bikers who were white passed by at the same time without any questions.
“It gives the appearance of racial profiling and that is unacceptable with us,” Mitchell said.
Seeking a Public Apology
James said he was in training for the Chicago marathon and received what he described as “inhumane treatment” by Glencoe police.
“I will probably never bike through Glencoe again because the treatment I received, I can’t even describe,” James said.
Mitchell and James have not ruled out filing a civil rights lawsuit, but as of now are intending to meet with village officials again. At the July 25 meeting, they hope to receive additional information on the demographics of people who have been stopped in Glencoe in recent years.
“A lawsuit is a great distance from now,” Mitchell said. “What we are looking for is a resolution to the issue.”
James said he wants a public apology from the village.
Stop Not Racially Motivated
Police Chief Volling, however, does not believe the stop was racially motivated and laid out some statistics that he believes prove his case.
Since June 1, when the construction zone started on Sheridan Road, there have been 168 stops of vehicles and bicycles, Volling said. Some 130 tickets, 26 written warnings and nine verbal warnings have been issued, he said. Of the 168 incidents in question, Volling said 140 people that have been stopped were white, 13 were Latino, nine were black and six were Asian.
“We believe the data shows we are not profiling or targeting minorities,” Volling said.
In addition, the police chief says the lieutenant who made the stop in question is a 28-year veteran who has never been accused of racial bias before. Volling has spoken with her already about the incident and plans to again following the meeting Monday with Mitchell and James.
As for the conference, Volling says he was pleased that he was able to hear directly from James.
“He was afforded an opportunity to express his concerns, which we take very seriously,” Volling said. “We have promised him a thorough and complete investigation.”
Stepping Up Patrols
Glencoe officials have stepped up patrols of the Sheridan Road construction zone as the summer long project continues. While no officer has been specifically assigned to the area, Volling said the officers have been instructed to pay special attention to avoid traffic problems.
“We had too many bicyclists going through [the area] and it became a hazard,” he said.
Volling, who has been with the Glencoe Police Department for more than 20 years, says the publicity surrounding the accusations of racial profiling in nearby Highland Park in the late 1990s and 2000 has made a difference in how communities approach the emotional issue.
“It’s fair to say we are more sensitive to those issues today than we were years ago,” he said.
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