Representative wants assurances that Greensboro police aren't practicing racial profiling

(Greensboro, N.C.) -- A state lawmaker told the City Council last week that she was wrongly pulled over by a city police officer.

Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat who represents northeast Greensboro, said the officer pulled her over without a good reason and then treated her rudely.

She has filed a formal complaint with the Greensboro Police Department, where senior managers have referred the matter to the Internal Affairs Section for investigation.

Adams said she doesn't know why the officer pulled her over on the afternoon of Nov. 19. But she wondered whether it might be because she is black or because she was driving through a mostly black neighborhood known for having a crime problem.

The stop took place near Bessemer Avenue and English Street.

''I don't know whether they're targeting neighborhoods and doing checks on tags in certain neighborhoods,'' Adams said in an interview Wednesday. ''I don't know what it is. I certainly am concerned if there's random checking of license tags going on, and it appears that there is.''

Adams said she complained about the incident at last Tuesday night's City Council meeting because she wanted to be sure the council knows about it and because she wanted to make sure that this and similar incidents would be taken seriously.

''I'm concerned about other people who may not complain and just keep going and feel like there's nothing they can do,'' she said.

Assistant Police Chief David Wray said officers run tag numbers for many reasons. Usually, the officer has a reason - such as a lone car found in the middle of an otherwise empty parking lot. But other times, it may just be the officer's curiosity.

In this case, Wray said, it appears that the officer's curiosity was piqued by Adams' special legislative license plate. The plate says in smaller letters ''HOUSE'' and in full-size letters ''67.'' Based on preliminary evidence, Wray said it appears that the officer overlooked the word ''HOUSE'' and just saw ''67.'' That vanity tag belongs to a Mercedes registered in eastern North Carolina, not Adams' Subaru.

After stopping Adams and checking again, the officer apparently realized he was mistaken. Her legislative tag was indeed registered to the Subaru, and the officer let her go, Wray said.

Adams and Wray both said the incident took about 10 minutes.

Wray said unusual plates attract attention from everyone, including police officers.

But Adams said that's a lame excuse.

''There are all kinds of specialty plates across this state,'' she said. ''There was nothing suspicious about this.''

Wray said he expects a report back from Internal Affairs in about a week and a half. He said the department will let Adams know the outcome.

He said Adams will be treated no better and no worse than anyone else because she is an elected official.

Adams said she thinks the officer should receive a reprimand and be told to apologize. If the officer or the department in general is randomly checking license tags, that practice should be stopped, she said.

(iSyndicate; News & Record (Greensboro, NC); Nov. 23, 2000) Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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