Letter to the Editor
Sherylla Wilson and Tami McAdory
It’s interesting how the police, who were once ordinary people like you and I, propel themselves to superiority by putting on uniforms.
I am a 26-year-old, African American female and personally, I am so tired of the racism we, as African Americans experience, I could just scream. My mother is an Los Angeles Police Department officer, and I have been trying my entire life to believe that not all agencies or officers are racist. But outside of my family, I’ve been proven wrong.
On Saturday August 21 about midnight, I was stopped in a Driving Under the Influence checkpoint conducted by the Signal Hill Police Department. I was alone, on my way to pick my boyfriend up from work.
No problem. I hadn’t been drinking, so I didn’t think twice as I approached. Everything was going fine until:
Officer: I need to see your license.
Me: Oh my God, I left my wallet at home. Here is my information.
Officer: Your license status says you haven’t been notified and you need personal or verbal service that your license has been suspended.
Me: That’s impossible. Why does it say it is suspended?
Officer: They don’t tell us that. (LIE)
Me: My license can’t be suspended. I had a ticket, but I went to court and took care of it on the 30th.
Officer: You have a phone?
Me: Yes, the number is ...
Officer: I don’t want the number. You need to call a ride. I’m giving you notice your license is suspended, and I’m taking your car, get out. (Rude)
I began to cry because this was unbelievable to me. I am an educated professional woman, I hadn’t committed a crime, and even though the DMV admitted I hadn’t been served with this notice, I was being tossed onto the street after midnight like a common criminal. As I’m walking around crying trying to get someone, anyone on the phone, the officers are looking at me as if I am an infection of some sort. As I continue trying to find out why my license is suspended from any officer on the scene, I continue to be ignored or answered with smart remarks, as if they were the gods of the universe and I was dog vomit under their feet.
When I asked why they couldn’t notify me and have someone else come and get my vehicle, their answer was: Because we can.
Finally, one officer broke down and told me my license was suspended because of a ticket and I probably wasn’t notified because of the LAPD confidentiality on my license. I again asked why they felt it was right to impound my vehicle, when they knew I hadn’t been notified. I simply got smirks and walk-offs. After quite a while of attempting to get my mom and others on the phone, I realized most everyone in my world was unavailable, and I was stuck on the street corner. Through my tears, I told a couple of the officers I had no way home.
When one offered to call a taxi, I told him that not only had I forgotten my wallet, I had no money at home in my wallet. He smirked and walked away, not caring, not giving me a minute of the time taxpayers are compensating him for to just help me think things through.
He went back to join his group of cold-hearted, uniforms who seemed to be enjoying watching me pace the streets in tears, as they made plans to tow away my Mercedes.
I knew in my heart, right then and there, if that Mercedes had a White woman in it, it would not be getting towed away. A White woman would not be put out onto the street like a criminal at midnight. A White woman would not be laughed at, smirked at, refused information, or ignored.
But, I had to remember, I’m not White. I finally reached my boyfriend, and he managed to catch a bus to the area and walk the rest of the way to my location.
He saw me bawling and tried to find out what happened, but I was too incoherent. He asked a nearby officer what happened, and he was told to simply get me and get out of the area. He told my boyfriend he didn’t have to talk to either one of us. Even though my boyfriend had a valid license, he wasn’t allowed to drive the vehicle home.
Oh yes, my boyfriend is also African American. We should have expected that.
At no time were either of us loud, rude, obnoxious, or disrespectful. The officers were, over, over and over again. And it didn’t stop there. The following day I called to speak with the watch commander. After I explained the impound and the way I was treated, his reaction was “AND?” So much for talking with a supervisor. When I went in later that morning with my license and paperwork to get a release for my vehicle, miraculously, after getting angry with me for calling, the Sergeant located parking tickets. He happily explained that even though he could see from my paperwork that I had paid my parking tickets, he was able to locate more that DMV posted right after I went in and cleared everything associated with the vehicle.
“Yes, I know the issues we have all been having with these confidential law enforcement plates and getting notifications.”
How interesting and insightful. We thanked him for his nasty disposition, smug attitude and his smart comments and asked for a complaint form. After he figured out where they were, he handed us something that looked like a preschooler made it up on the school computer. We took it and, knowing by the expression on his face it would be pointless to fill it out, and we left.
My family was taken aback by the officers’ attitudes. Can it really be that these officers have no one to answer to? My mother and I talked and agreed, we could not let this go. She assisted me and drafted a letter to the mayor of Signal Hill and other dignitaries.
The following day she ended up in the chief’s office. He did his best to convince her that his department is not racist. No explanation for my treatment, no apology for the officers, only excuses. I arrived late (to) the meeting, and he graciously agreed to waive his department’s impound fee. He made it known that he would have done the same thing as far as the impound was concerned had he been here. I am sure he would have, if the circumstances were exactly the same.
Had I been White, his niece, or one of his officers’ daughters, he certainly would not have. He would have read the “verbal or personal notice required” part. As I am entitled to, I attempted to get an impound hearing on Thursday the 26th because I truly want my impound fees refunded. I was not asking for a different outcome, just the outcome in writing. Unfortunately, the captain took one look at me and decided I looked like the person who kicked his dog and refused to give me an impound hearing. He also said he was not giving me anything in writing. He snarled “I talked to the chief, he took care of you, I’m not doing anything else for you,” then closed the glass partition and walked away.
So, now I get it. The chief is in his office blind to the way his officers behave. Captain Mark trained Sgt. Craven to be a smug, racist, jerk and he in turned trained all his officers. They do it the right way.
They leave as few bruises as possible. That way they can talk their way around it all. Lesson learned, never ever drive in or around Signal Hill. If you do, and you are stopped by the police for any reason, tell them you are White, and you will be treated like a human being with civil rights.
Sherylla Wilson and Tami McAdory (mom)
NOTE: The driver’s licenses of law enforcement officials and their relatives are registered with their respective departments, and all notification of traffic tickets should be sent by the DMV to the agency. However, this has not been happening as consistently as necessary in the case of the LAPD.
Additionally the vehicle code (14601 cvc) states a person must have knowledge of the suspension. Miss Wilson’s DMV record (pulled up via computer at the scene) specifically stated she had not been notified of the suspension. It also stated verbal or personal notification was needed. After verbally notifying her of the suspension it would have been proper to prevent her from driving and a licensed driver should have been allowed to drive the vehicle. According to officer McAdory, there was no legal reason to impound the vehicle.
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of Our Weekly.
Growing up in inner city New Jersey, Regina Scott always saw police officers strolling into her community, but she never saw an African American female in uniform.
“Then I saw Christie Love, and knew I wanted to become a police officer,” recalls Scott, who chose that route even though people steadily told her it wouldn’t happen.
Undeterred, Scott began plotting a career course that would prepare her for that dream job.
LOS ANGELES - Police Chief Charlie Beck announced a reorganization of the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as the promotion of several officers -- including the first black woman to be given the rank of commander.
Captain III Regina Scott's promotion will become effective Oct. 10. She will then become the assistant commanding officer of the LAPD's Information Technology Bureau.
In the last several weeks local law enforcement officials have been involved in altercations with three African American males that have resulted in two fatalities and another young man clinging to life in a local hospital.
The first incident, involved 43-year-old Inglewood resident, Reginald Andre Linthicum, who according to his family had just been paroled from state prison in June after more than 11 years.
LOS ANGELES - Authorities announced a $50,000 reward for information that helps solve the killing of a 23-year-old Upland woman hit by apparent stray gunfire as she sat in a car in South Los Angeles.
Shaquana Denise Watson was shot about 9 p.m. July 27 in the 5300 block of South Broadway. She died at a hospital.
"She was a passenger in a car that was parked at the curb,'' Los Angeles police Officer Rosario Herrera said. "She was struck by gunfire that came from a passing white van.''
After killing 10 Black women and at least one Black man in South Central Los Angeles for almost 25 years, a man suspected of being the so-called “Grim Sleeper” was arrested yesterday by the Los Angeles Police Department.
The Robbery-Homicide Division of the LAPD took 57-year-old Lonnie David Franklin Jr. into custody at his home on 81st Street near Western Avenue. His arrest is the culmination of an investigation that began more than two decades ago.