Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jordan Miles Controversy Affects Police/Community Relations

Many in the African American community think police were the ones breaking the law in January, 2010 when they beat and arrested Jordan Miles in Homewood. There are allegations of racial profiling and excessive force.

Police union leaders have decried the dismissal of charges against the young honor student and the ongoing federal investigation of police for possible criminal civil rights violations.

In this report, WDUQ explores the effects this incident has had on the relationship between the community and police--and what impact that relationship may have on crime fighting. If community members think police are not lawful and fair, they do not cooperate with police.

Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board, says police must have "reasonable suspicion" to stop someone on the street. Brandi Fisher, who heads the Alliance for Police Accountability, thinks some police officers practice racial profiling, stopping any young male in a black neighborhood, whether or not there's an indication of wrongdoing.

Fisher says Miles was flourishing--doing well in school, never getting in trouble--in spite of living in a neighborhood with high poverty and crime, yet he was still beaten severely by police for no reason. She says the community is getting impatient for the results of the federal investigation, but it was reassuring to hear that U.S. Attorney David Hickton is aware of the case.

University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris says it's very hard to prove a federal civil rights violation, and it's also hard in general to convict police officers. Whatever comes of the federal investigation or possible local action, he believes the community needs a full explanation of what happened that night.

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