Race Relations: What's Happening in Montgomery?

Since the incident in July involving Officer Dodd, the Montgomery Police Department has been under fire from the public. Several people have filed claims against the department accusing officers of police brutality and racism. WSFA Crime Reporter Beth Jett looked into the situation and found there is a big difference between what is actually happening on our streets and what some people "perceive" is happening.

Beth looked at the issue from both sides over two-months, starting with raids at two neighborhoods in Montgomery: one predominantly black and the other predominantly white.

MPD's Special Operations Team put their plan together to raid three houses in a predominantly black neighborhood (Traction Avenue and George Mull Street). They surprised the people living there and handcuffed everyone for safety. At the same time, other officers raided two nearby houses in the same area, arresting one person. Just up the road, agents took several more people into custody.

A group of bystanders watched the action from a distance. None of them would talk on-camera, but they said repeatedly the bust was racially motivated and had it been a white neighborhood, officers would have looked the other way.

The suspects police took into custody agreed. Beth questioned some of them who were at a house where officers found crack, marijuana and alleged drug money.

Beth: "Do you think it was fair the police came out here?"
Suspect: "No it wasn't fair."
Beth: "Why?"
Suspect: "Because it wasn't fair... They would not have did what they did. They don't go out in white communities."
Beth: "Do you think it's a racial thing?"
Suspect: "Yes.. I think it is."
Beth: "Are you guys guilty of anything?"
Suspect: "Being black.. Being black.. That's it.

Six days later, another raid, this time in a predominantly white neighborhood, at a house on Crouson Street. Agents found marijuana and several weapons. Again, neighbors watched and Beth asked questions:

Beth: "Do you think they have a right to be out here?"
Suspect: "I sure don't.. Because they should be at a whole lot of houses on this road besides mine...they done been in here one time, why don't they pick on somebody else's home?"
Beth: "They've been here before?"
Suspect: "Yeah, they've been here before..found about 20 roaches... Didn't take nobody to jail.. Two joints.. I'm going down for a felony."

Like it or not, enforcing the law is a job someone has to do, regardless of race. There are 318 white officers on the MPD force and 143 black officers. There are three times as many white supervisors as blacks. By the way, the raid in the black neighborhood actually resulted in the arrests of more than a dozen white people.

For part two of Beth's report, click here.
For part three, click here.