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Political Gumbo: Law Abiding Citizens Deserve Respect

Published on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 | 5:30 am

Since we have gone weeks without a pot, this week I decided to cook up at least two columns.  

Across the country a lot is being made about pretextual stops.

By now, many of us know what a pretext stop is.

According to a City memo, a pretextual stop is when a police officer detains a person for a minor crime, like a traffic violation, because the officer believes the person is involved in or has committed another more serious crime.

According to statistics, people of color are more likely to be the subject of pretext stops.

I’ve already covered pretext stops here before this became an issue due to the Office of Independent Review (OIR) probe in the Anthony McClain case.

Nope, this is an entirely different take.

I don’t believe the police are wrong every time they pull someone over. 

As a matter of fact, I want them to stop the bad guys. Stop them, seize the dope, the guns and keep the populace safe. 

Of course that all comes with the police staying within the law. 

We all have rights and they have to be respected.

Here’s where I see a need for change.

Far too often the good guys are stopped and questioned and treated like the bad guys. 

You know, the average Joe headed home from a hard day’s work that gets pulled over and is treated with suspicion and has to present his papers and reveal where he’s going and where he’s been.

Trust me it’s happened to me far too many times, more in Altadena than Pasadena, but the point is the same. 

Too many of us have been stopped while standing, breathing, walking, sitting and jogging.

That’s why so many Black men that have done nothing wrong have that fear when they see those red lights behind them.

They have been treated like the criminals, forced to sit on the curb while their car is searched. 

Been there.

Asked if they are in a gang.

Been there.

Asked if there are weapons in the car.

Been there. 

Yet, I have no criminal records. 

That treatment makes it seem as if part of the pretextual stops is in fact pretextual guilt. 

No, that does not happen every time. 

Of course there are times when police have to pull over law- abiding citizens, but even then — the process should be simple.

Warn them or write the ticket and send them on their way.

Of course, that requires the citizen to respond in kind. It’s a two-way street.

Of course policing is hard, and it’s a job I would not want — especially in this day and age where every police officer is treated with derision. 

Simply put, it’s time we fill the chasm between police and people of color.

Let’s fill that gap with respect on both sides.

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