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Fayetteville residents accuse police of racial profiling

Hundreds attended a public forum on the issue held by Police Chief Tom Bergamine on Thursday night.

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Some Fayetteville residents say they have been racially profiled by police.

In 2010, Fayetteville police made 38,595 traffic stops. Of those, officers searched 1,610 black drivers and 510 white drivers.

Hundreds attended a public forum on the issue held by Police Chief Tom Bergamine on Thursday night.

At one point, a moderator asked those who felt they had been discriminated against by an officer to raise their hands. Khalil Shakeel was among those who raised his hand.

“If you are driving, you are liable to be pulled over for some reason,” he said. “I have, in my opinion, been unjustly pulled over.”

Despite numbers showing blacks are stopped and searched more, Bergamine said he doesn’t think any of his officers are racially profiling.

Bergamine said his officers are doing their jobs, following reports of crime in certain parts of the city, particularly drug crimes. He said that leads to more stops and searches of black drivers.

“When you look at the calls for service where crimes occur, we are kind of proactive. We work neighborhoods where crimes happen,” he said.

During the forum, some said the stops and fear of being stopped still hurts.

“That is not a good feeling. It is not. It is almost like we live in South Africa,” resident Barbara Carraway said.

Bergamine plans to require officers to clearly explain why stops are made in the future. He hopes it will improve that perception in his community and “put a lot of people’s minds at ease on why we do these searches.”

Bergamine said cameras in police cars might also help the situation. He said most of city's cars recently lost their cameras when their supplier went out of business. Getting cameras back in cars would cost $6,000 per cruiser.



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