WRAL Investigates

More than half of trooper's citations were to Hispanics

Posted September 15, 2010

— About 54 percent of a Highway Patrol trooper's pending traffic cases involved Hispanic drivers, far more than other troopers in his district.

WRAL News found Wednesday that 104 of trooper Michael L. Potts' 191 pending citations were written to Hispanic drivers.

Five other master troopers in the same district have a combined 939 pending tickets, with 62 , or 6 percent, issued to Hispanics.

Sgt. Jeff Gordon, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol, confirmed Tuesday that Potts was on administrative duty but would not say what prompted the disciplinary action.

The agency declined to comment on the citations Wednesday, but it has had issues before regarding racial profiling.

In 2002, a Superior Court judge dismissed a DWI charge against a driver on grounds that trooper Clinton Carroll was targeting Hispanics.

An internal investigation, however, found no wrongdoing on Carroll's part.

Potts, who has been a trooper since Feb. 17, 2001, was assigned to Durham and Granville counties, Gordon said.

While on administrative duty, he will still receive his $56,000 annual salary.

The Highway Patrol's image has been plagued in recent years by a number of cases involving state troopers who have resigned, been fired or been disciplined for inappropriate or questionable conduct, including profiling, drunken driving, animal abuse, sex on duty and inappropriate text messages.

264 Comments

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  • CHRoseIII Sep 24, 12:38 p.m.

    no breake law....no gettee tickee...aw ' c'mon.....geeze

  • kellydarrell2 Sep 17, 4:27 p.m.

    I don't believe that there was any racial profiling. You cannot always see who is in the car and what race they are. I do want to say that I was hit head on by a drunk driver in 1997 that was hispanic, I am lucky to be here. Then to find out that he was charged with a DWI one month prior to hitting me was devastating. After 3 court dates, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail, which he never served a day, due to the fact he was supposed to report back to the jail, and then they could never find him. They are able to change their names constantly and have false identification, not to mention the ones driving without a license or a revoked one at that. I can truely say something has to be done and the laws need to change to crack down on this sort of thing happening. Our officers are doing their jobs, they ticket and arrest and they are let free, they ticket too much and they get in trouble, where is the logic in that?

  • Lumberton Cop Sep 17, 1:26 p.m.

    This story should be news after the investigation was completed and he was found to have been in the wrong. And what ever happened to state personnel privacy laws? Seems like the NCSHP always discloses everything about their troopers. Disciplinary actions are supposed to be kept confidential unless and until criminal charges are warranted. Is the NCSHP an exception???

  • Lumberton Cop Sep 17, 1:22 p.m.

    Anyone ever looked into CNA's? My experience shows that there are many of them that are criminals and violate the law. Just got one a couple weeks ago, smuggling prescription pills, marijuana, and tobacco into a prison for an inmate. Wasn't her first rodeo either. I have run across many in similar situations. I would not trust most of my enemies to their care. But does that mean that all or even most CNA's are bad? Heck no. There are many more that are good honest people and work to provide good quality care toward the patients. The difference is, the public don't see it because CNA's rarely make the news. Law enforcement does. There are bad apples in every profession.

  • Lumberton Cop Sep 17, 1:18 p.m.

    Why is this story even news yet??? I could see that this would be news if the trooper was found to be targeting hispanics after an investigation was completed but so far, he has only been accused and the investigation apparently is ongoing. Love how the media always puts bad publicity on law enforcement before anyone even knows if they did wrong or not. Sure there are some crooked cops out there. But they are few and far in between in relation to the total number of officers. But bad publicity makes it appear to the public that most cops are crooked and hence the reason that the public has little respect for or trust in us. There are no more crooked cops in law enforcement than crooked people in other professions. Nobody seems to publicize their actions though, its always law enforcement, public officials, and school teachers.

  • tamps Sep 17, 10:26 a.m.

    Answers
    1. If you act based on racial bias, you have commited a federal crime. After the claims that are being made now, how many police officers will hesitate before acting? How many police officers will have their safety placed in jeopardy because of hesitation and how many lives of the citizens of this state will be in jeopardy because of an officer who is affraid to act because of this injustice that is being commited toward this trooper who was doing his job well.
    2. See answer 1.
    3. See answer 1.
    Essay answer. Some do but most dont. In what year was the hispanic population of North Carolina at 5%? It was certainly not in the last 15 years. There are numerous counties in this state with 30% to 40% hispanic populations. There are counties in this state with very large communities that have 80% hispanic populations. Most people in our communities, including local and state governments, who need to pull their heads out of the sand and look around at what is going on in our backyards.

  • tamps Sep 17, 9:42 a.m.

    1. If you know someone is commiting a criminal act should you pause and try to determine the race of the subject and let the race determine your course of action or should you act without racial bias? 2. If you are assigned to work in a community that has an unbalanced racial or nationality make-up, do you turn your head to obvious criminal activity so as to not appear to be targeting a certain nationality? 3. If you are driving down the road and look beside you and see someone that you have reason to believe does not have a license, do you make that arrest or do you continue driving because of the racial background of that person? Do the writers of the comments of this blog know what they are talking about?

  • tamps Sep 17, 9:20 a.m.

    What!

  • delilahk2000 Sep 16, 7:59 p.m.

    SOUNDS LIKE HE WAS DOING HIS JOB, AND THE OTHERS WERE NOT. HE HAS NO WAY OF KNOWING WHO IS IN THE CAR UNTIL HE HAS STOPPED THEM. YOU PEOPLE GET REAL, DO YOU KNOW WHO AND WHAT ARE IN ALL THE CARS THAT PASS YOU EVERYDAY, YOU ARE LYING IF YOU SAY YOU DO. GREAT JOB POTTS, AT LEAST YOU ARE DOING YOUR JOB....

  • UPTOP Sep 16, 7:17 p.m.

    I can't wait to hear the whole story !! Today it's the Hispanics, who knows what tomorrow will be !!! Things that make you go Hhhhhmmmmmmmmmmm.......

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