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Police Action Intimidates Johnson Co. Minorities
Updated: Tuesday, July 16 2013, 10:08 PM CDT
IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- Officials in Johnson County are concerned about the disproportionate contact between police and minorities, and several entities have started conversations about the issue.
That hasn't necessarily made change in the way that minorities feel they are being treated by law enforcement, however.
Two months ago, Kingsley Botchway was heading home on Mormon Trek Drive, when he noticed a police officer following him very closely.
"And then because I thought he was a cop, I went into extreme anxiety mode, I turned on my right turn signal," Botchway said.
The officer was staring at him, and sped past Botchway's car, he said.
"I make sure I turn directly into my lane. I'm not trying to do anything to would cause any probable cause," Botchway said, narrating his previous actions.
Botchway thought the officer was gone -- until he made the turn toward his home.
"He immediately flashed his lights," Botchway said about the officer.
Botchway said his interaction with the officer was normal, but thought it was strange that he asked where Botchway worked. Botchway is an employee of Johnson County -- and he's a candidate for Iowa City city council.
"People that I've talked to, they would label it as harassment, because again, there was no reason to stop me, other than just to intimidate," he said.
The officer who pulled over Botchway was from University Heights, and Police Chief Ron Fort said he analyzed 80 citations issued by that officer, and there is no evidence that he is targeting minorities.
"If an officer profiles, he's fired," Fort said.
Still, county leaders said police intimidation happens all the time in Johnson County.
"Being a person of color, sometimes in situations where it's a really homogenous city, state, area, can be like going to war every day, because you have to be prepared, you don't know what's coming your way," said Johnson County disproportionate minority contact coordinator LaTasha Massey.
The conversation about disproportionate minority contact is continuing. Iowa City is still working on implementing recommendations from a recent Ad Hoc Diversity Committee report into city practices, and other groups in Johnson County are expected to release more findings on the issue in the coming weeks.