Racial Profiling Task Force Coming to Jonesboro

March 9, 2004 -- Posted at 6:30 p.m. CST

Jonesboro -- A racial profiling task force is coming to Jonesboro, and they're hoping to gather public opinion from people like Nickelas Brewer who says cops won't stay away from his neighborhood.

"We can be grilling or throwing something for the kids, but they just mess with us on purpose," said Brewer.

But Captain B.J. Smith with the Jonesboro Police Department disagrees. He says officers are mandated to abide by an Anti-Racial Profiling measure passed last April.

"We do not enforce the laws based on anybody's race, gender or any other factor," said Smith.

Smith says officers must sit through intensive training, where they're taught to treat people like they want to be treated. Also, like the State Police, the JPD must document their stops, including the race of the person stopped.

But Jonesboro's record has not always been squeaky clean. Within the last 7 years, one officer has been fired and another suspended for a racial profiling incident.

"Of course we're going to have occasions where an officer does not always do exactly as he was trained but it happens," said Smith.

But it's those events that the task force may be looking for.

State Senator Henry Wilkins spearheaded the task force, after his son, a Harvard University student, says he was legally parked in downtown Little Rock and police officers told him to move. It's testimony Nickelas Brewer says he can identify with.

"You can be a working man, but they still put something on you like you're doing something wrong," said Brewer.