by: Ken Lemon Updated:
RANLO - Members of the Hispanic community in Ranlo will be meeting with police Tuesday night about a potential racial profiling situation.
These community members say they got tickets after getting gas or food at a store on New Hope Road in Ranlo, noting police watched them while they were in the store and followed them as they left.
Many of them were stopped on streets nearby.
They showed Channel 9 their citations over the weekend. One woman spoke to us in tears through a translator.
“He was screaming at her that she was illegal,” a translator said.
An advocate for the group said she has visited the area and seen officers follow Hispanic drivers from the store.
“I believe this is abuse, racial profiling, intimidation,” said Maudia Melendez with Jesus Ministries.
Reporter Ken Lemon looked at 41 tickets Ranlo police wrote over the past month, and 11 of them were given to Hispanic drivers. Of the 11 tickets, eight were written within a half mile of the gas station.
Lemon took the group’s complaints to Ranlo Police Chief Tim Anderson.
Anderson said his officers were “absolutely not” sitting around waiting to target Hispanics, and that officers go to the store because it is only one of two nearby where they can get gas or snacks.
Anderson showed Lemon the reports and said in every case, the driver was cited for a violation, such as expired registration, no insurance or no driver’s license.
“If my officers witness an infraction of the law or a misdemeanor being violated they have to carry out their duties. They have to carry out their function as a sworn officer,” Anderson said.
Channel 9 found reports of officers stopping Caucasian and African-American drivers for the same violations.
“The majority of the people we deal with I would say is more than 90 percent white,” said Anderson.
However, this group claims those drivers are not being followed in the same way.
Both police and people in the Hispanic community will talk about the issue Tuesday night. The chief said he wants to work with residents to build a better relationship. He has already asked his officers to spend less time at the store.