Today the ACLU of Louisiana sent a letter to Homer Chief of Police Russell Mills, urging him to retract his racist statement made to the Chicago Tribune concerning his treatment of young black men. Mr. Mills was quoted as saying "If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names. I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested."
ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie R. Esman said in the letter to Chief Mills:
"It is your job, as the chief law enforcement official of the City of Homer, to protect all residents of that community, which includes protecting them from wrongful police conduct. Surely you realize that there is no valid presumption that a group of young African American men are criminals simply because of their skin color."
Racial profiling results in bad policing, because it diverts resources based on stereotypes. It also increases tensions between persons of color and the police force. Esman said: "the people of Homer deserve a police force that protects them, not one that violates the law by engaging in racially discriminatory persecutions of community members based on their race. Crime will not be solved by targeting people who have done nothing wrong."
Esman continued, "it violates the fourth amendment for police to stop people without any suspicion that they are engaged in criminal activity. The government has no right to conduct random checks of people, just for walking around in public. Happily, we live in a country where police cannot stop and question you unless they have a reason to do so. Chief Mills has essentially stated that he routinely breaks the law, and intends to continue to do so. This is bad policing, illegal, and leaves the City open to liability from lawsuits."
The ACLU urges Mr. Mills to retract his statements and clarify the intent of his comments. The ACLU also urges the Homer Police Department to commit to not engage in racial profiling.