Chief defends officers against profiling charges

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Ferriday’s top police officer Tuesday once again defended his department against allegations of racial profiling – just a month after the council passed an ordinance banning such behavior by police officers.

Elijah Banks, owner of Steppers Club in Ferriday, asked Police Chief Bobby Shepherd – during the town’s first police forum – to define racial profiling, and asked him why officers continuously watch his patrons.

&uot;Racial profiling is the detention or other disapproved treatment of an individual based on racial status,&uot; Shepherd said. &uot;We don’t tolerate it. We have a zero-tolerance policy.&uot;

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Banks said many patrons become hot in his small club on U.S. 84, and many gather outside the club rather than stay inside. Banks said Ferriday officers make his patrons feel harassed, and feels they’re being targeted because they stand outside the club.

&uot;I’m telling you what my patrons tell me,&uot; he said. &uot;They (police officers) sit across in the AutoZone parking lot and shine the flashlight on my patrons. That makes them feel harassed.&uot;

Shepherd said his department gets four or five disturbance calls per weekend to the club and disperses crowds for that reason, not because of anyone’s race. He also noted that AutoZone asked the police department to watch their parking lot to keep the club’s patrons from parking in it.

&uot;If you mix crowds and alcohol, sooner or later you’re going to have some problems,&uot; Shepherd said. &uot;We can watch a club – especially where we have a lot of problems – and it’s not racial profiling.

&uot;If we’re there, it’s not because you’re black or white.&uot;

Other residents expressed concerns about speeders in some areas and loud music in others.