CHIEF MOOSE TAKES PART IN PANEL ON RACIAL PROFILING-Andrew Stelzer

07/13/04

Last night at Tampa’s' downtown library, ex-police chief Charles Moose was the featured speaker at a panel discussion on police community relations and racial profiling. Moose was launched into the national spotlight when as chief for the Montgomery county, Maryland police department, he helped catch the Washington DC area sniper two years ago. But there was no mention of the sniper last night; since stepping down from his job last year, Moose has been touring the country with the ACLU speaking about how to improve the often mistrustful relationship between police and the community they are supposed to serve.

Moose brought the perspective of a 20-year veteran of police departments in Portland Oregon and Maryland; he also spoke as a black man.

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Moose was joined on the panel by Guadeloupa Lamas, who spoke about the problems that migrant farmworkers and other Latinos have in the Tampa bay area.

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And Amhed Bedier, from the council on American Islamic relations was able to reflect on a theme of the panel: relations since 9-11. Bedier listed off things like the Arab immigrant fingerprinting and detainment program, the TIPS program, which asked regular Americans to spy on each other, as reasons for the fact that incidents of racial profiling against Middle Eastern looking people have risen by 73 percent since September 11th.

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There is currently a bill circulating in the US congress, called the End Racial Profiling Act, which has been signed on to by 123 members of congress, 4 of them from Florida. Jim Davis is the only member who has signed who is White, the others are black democrats Corrine Brown, AC Hastings and Kendrick Meek. In taking questions from the audience about how to solve the problems of racial profiling, the subject of Community review boards for police departments was brought up. Moose said that the fear and resistance towards these boards that is typically displayed by police departments is irrational and counterproductive.

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Moose pointed out the Tampa police suffer from the same fear

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Bedier said stereotypes held by police and discriminatory law enforcement makes their own jobs harder.

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And lamas had her own story and suggestion for the Plant city police.

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The panel discussion was presented by the ACLU, which has recently opened their first Tamp Bay area office. To get in touch with the local ACLU about racial profiling or anything else, log on to www.aclufl.org or call Becky Steele at 813-254-0925

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