Police chief: No racial profiling here | Guest View
I wanted to take the opportunity to respond to the letter to the editor from Camille Fitzpatrick that was published in the Mukilteo Beacon on Feb. 12 [“Livid over apparent racial profiling,” Letters, page 4].
Her letter surprised me, as the Mukilteo Police Department has excellent relationships with the community and has not been contacted either by the parties she observed or their parents after the described contact.
The police department members and I take our roles in the community very seriously. I recently met with Acting Police Chief Chuck Macklin, and we researched the incident to determine what had happened.
What we found is described here based on information from the incident logs created by our 911 center and the officers at the time of the event. I also had the chance to talk with Cpl. Tony Falso, the ranking officer at the scene.
At 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, Mukilteo police officers were dispatched to a report of a fight where the caller to 911 described two males at the scene were assaulting and beating up a third.
Officers responding to the report of the fight contacted three boys two minutes later at the location provided by the dispatcher near Columbia Elementary.
They confirmed that the three 15-year-old boys they contacted were in fact the ones they were called about. All three juveniles admitted to “play fighting.”
Two of the boys were African American and one was Caucasian. The officers contacted them based on the description of their clothing and location in front of the elementary school, not based on their race.
The officers did have their patrol car lights on; primarily for safety because they were stopped on the side of one of our major roads at night.
Officers completed their investigation and cleared the call within 10 minutes. The parties could have been cited for disorderly conduct for their actions, however the officers chose to warn them and let them know their actions had alarmed passers-by who called 911.
While they were talking with the juveniles, the aunt of one of the boys stopped to make sure everything was OK and confirmed they were all friends.
One of the boys lost his house key when his friends knocked him down, so the officers spent several minutes helping him find his key in the tall grass, in the dark, using their flashlights.
That assistance to the boys actually tied the officers up a few minutes longer.
The call shows a very quick response to a crime against a person. The officers handled the call quickly and professionally and returned to service.
After this call, they had an additional 26 calls through the rest of their shift. This is all recorded as Incident 01613 in SNOCOM records.
The call referenced by the Beacon editor was one of the 14 calls for service handled by the previous shift earlier on the same day. The editor appears to have referenced Incident 01611, which occurred shortly before and a block or two away near the ball fields at Kamiak High School.
As the parent of an adopted mixed-race child of African American background, I am uniquely aware of misperceptions that occur in the community and have talked with my now-adult son about the topic.
Additionally, I teach a college level course (PHIL 248) at Shoreline Community College using curriculum developed while commander at the Police Academy for the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission specifically addressing police ethics and multiculturalism.
Mukilteo police staff are amongst the most ethical and culturally aware professionals I have worked with in my 33-year career. I am proud of the men and women I have the honor to work with in this city.
I want to add that the Mukilteo Police Department has a great relationship with our local school district and is always aware of the potential for violence on or near school property.
We teamed with the district to provide anti-bullying presentations to more than 800 students this month alone. In the past year I have personally met with nearly all of the local PTSA and school staff to do presentations on school safety and police response training.
Our mission statement and core values can be found on the city’s website at www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us on our department page.
In closing, I would like to thank Ms. Fitzpatrick for observing our officers at work and taking the time to address her concerns.
I would invite anyone in the community to contact me or Acting Chief Macklin at any time with questions regarding police tactics or responses to calls.
As Cpl. Falso told me, any one of our staff members would be glad to meet with the public to discuss police responses, answer questions or just chat – as long as it is safe to do so at the time.
Rex Caldwell is the police chief and interim city administrator for the city of Mukilteo. While he is serving as city administrator for about three months, second-in-command Chuck Macklin is filling in as acting chief.