UTC is defending the actions of its police department in the traffic stop of a former staff member, but said it will cut down on the number of cars and personnel going to a non-threatening issue.
The investigation was conducted by Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Brown and reviewed by Dr. Yancy Freeman, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, and Terry Denniston, Chief of Staff, and approved by Chancellor Steve Angle.
Chancellor Angle and Executive Vice Chancellor Brown said, "A former UTC staff member and alumna was recently stopped by campus police for a traffic violation.
The University conducted and has completed an investigation of the traffic stop that occurred near campus on June 24. With the investigation completed, we are sharing information, both written and visual, and the results and recommendations.
"As we report our findings, we first want to apologize to the driver for the actions that occurred during the traffic stop that made her feel “profiled, targeted and shaken" by the encounter with UTC police. Our actions support and demonstrate our work to eliminate racism as part of our core values as an institution.
"The investigation found there was no racial profiling, and the officers involved with the traffic stop stated they did not know the race of the person in the vehicle. The review also showed the officers treated the driver with respect and dignity and followed standard training and protocols for making the stop.
"The review shows that campus police handled this matter according to policy and professionally; therefore, no disciplinary action is warranted. However, we will continue with de-escalation training, community policing strategies, and we are implementing policy revisions and clarifications.
"The University administration will use the knowledge gained from the review of the June 24 traffic stop to examine our campus police vehicle stop policy and to limit the number of police vehicles and personnel responding to future incidents. Officers will understand to limit their engagement in making non-life threatening traffic stops that do not threaten the health and safety of the UTC community.
"Following the completed internal review of video evidence from dash cameras and officer body cameras and interviews with our police personnel, we are sharing additional information about the June 24 traffic stop. The key points are included in this communication, and the UTCPD is making a summary of the incident and the full videos available online HERE.
"We will create an advisory board that assists the ongoing dialogue between our campus community and our campus police.
"From the video and written information, these are the reviewed facts:
- A total of four officers in three vehicles responded to the traffic stop. There are seven videos – five from body cameras on the four officers and two from the dash camera on the lead UTCPD vehicle that made the stop which activated when the headlights of the vehicle turned on.
- The officers' statements indicate that, prior to the stop, they could not tell the race or gender of the person driving the vehicle.
- Just prior to the driver being pulled over on 8th Street, another officer in a second police vehicle who was traveling east on 8th Street ahead of the driver made a U-turn on 8th Street to go to a call at McKenzie Arena, which may have been perceived by the driver as related to her stop and a perception of being "boxed in."
- In talking with the driver, the officer mistakenly said the reason for the stop was running a stop sign at 8th and Douglas, when the stop sign at issue was at the intersection of 8th and Houston.
- The officer gave the driver a community health and safety reason for pulling her over for the stop sign violation. No traffic citation was issued.
- The officers followed standard protocols for making the traffic stop.
"The complete UTC police department traffic stop summary report for June 24, 2020, is accessible by clicking HERE.
"The UTCPD has posted online the dash camera and body camera videos, which are accessible HERE.
"Earlier in June, as Chancellor, I sent out a campus-wide memo that challenged each of us, individually and as an institution, to create the future our students deserve; the future our community and nation deserve. If we are to achieve significant change, each of us – faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other stakeholders – has a role.
"We have to learn how a history of actions and at times inactions shapes opinions of racial bias. We will teach and learn, our future actions will measure change and we will be accountable."