A somewhat facetious account of a student being harassed by policemen on campus:
Last night when walking down Washington Street at around 12:30 am, Al Fertig, ’10, was eating out of a bag of Sour Patch Kids and threw an orange one which tasted funny into the street. Unfortunately, a policeman speeding past in his vehicle assumed that this projectile was aimed at him, so he pulled over and verbally abused Fertig for about ten minutes, repeatedly calling him an “asshole”, a “punk kid”, and a “douchebag full of shit”, and trying to make him admit to being intoxicated.
Fertig maintained his sobriety and tried to protest that his rejection of the gummy candy had nothing to do with any kind of passive-aggressive hatred towards the Middletown PD, and besides, it was biodegradable, but this guy was having none of it.
The policeman, who introduced himself as “Clark, Officer Clark to you,” told Fertig he was writing him up “for being an asshole”, with no further explanation, and ordered Fertig to “stand in front of my car and don’t fuckin’ move”, while he got inside his vehicle and started to furiously scribble a ticket. Meanwhile, his canine companion was barking furiously from the backseat and baring its teeth.
In the middle of this dressing down, which Josh Gordon ’10 and I watched incredulously, two more police vehicles pulled up and surrounded Fertig, who stood there covered in flashing lights and continued dejectedly to eat his Sour Patch Kids.
The policemen in the other cars appeared bemused, and after a minute of observing the scene one rolled his eyes and kept moving. Minutes later, a black police car with “Supervisor” labeled on the side pulled up, and a policeman who appeared to have some seniority came out to see what was going on. The red-faced Clark seemed to ignore his presence and continued writing, finally exiting his car to yell at Fertig some more (without using the F-word nearly as much) before slapping him with a $200 citation for littering and telling him he “better watch out next time!!”
At that point we were fully prepared to quietly seethe in our rooms and accept this as a token incident of an embittered policeman unleashing his resentment of uppity college kids on us, but upon Google searching him later that night we found that this guy has a history of being incredibly over-reactive towards kids around Middletown.
According to the Middletown Tax Dollars blog, one Officer Douglas Clark of the Middletown PD was involved in an alleged racial bias incident in late April 2006.
A group of teenaged black males were waiting to be picked up by their parents in a parking lot on the corner of Main Street and Liberty Street after performing in a monthly Open Mic night sponsored by Teens with Talent (TwT), a community-based extracurricular organization that helps teenagers develop life skills, when our Officer Clark showed up.
According to Dunlap [one of the guys present at the incident], Clark jumped out of his cruiser and confronted the teens, telling them not to move. Clark’s police dog, which was still in the cruiser, was barking repeatedly, Dunlap said. Clark reportedly told the teens he was responding to a call that teenagers were “jumping at cars.”
Several adult bystanders objected to his accusations, maintaining that the kids were being a little loud but definitely not causing any trouble. One even accused him of singling out the teens because they were black, since the white patrons of Middletown bars were frequently more of a nuisance but ignored by police. Clark ignored them and kept yelling.
White [director of TwT] said she believes Clark ‘made a bad judgement call.’ With all the recent gang violence, she said, she thinks Clark was probably “nervous or scared.” However, White also said Clark is “a young officer,” and that he should attend sensitivity training. The kids felt this is simply “how the police are,” she said. “In every police department, there are a few bad apples,” White said.
The director of Teens With Talent filed a formal complaint with the PD about Clark, but no response was given.
I mean, nobody is suggesting any drastic action here, but if a short, red-faced cop with a crew cut and a really loud dog ever stops someone you know for an inane reason, be aware that he is ALWAYS having a bad day and might really benefit from a secret Valium habit (…or a massive ego check).
Xue @11:46: Postdated to 11:59PM to sticky at top.