Ex-MLB Player Writes He Was Racially Profiled By Police

April 15, 2014
The Hartford Courant
WEST HARTFORD — Former Major League Baseball player Doug Glanville's essay saying that he was racially profiled in the driveway of his Hartford home has gone viral.
Glanville, who now works as an ESPN baseball analyst, posted the essay Monday on TheAtlantic.com.
Glanville moved his family to Hartford's West End when he started working at ESPN. He said he was shoveling his driveway recently when a West Hartford police officer got out of his car.
"He approached me with purpose, and then, without any introduction or explanation he asked, 'So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people's driveways around here?'" Glanville wrote. He responded that he was shoveling his own property, and the officer left.
Glanville lives in an upscale neighborhood, near the governor, the Hartford mayor and several other politicians. He said he did not mention to the officer that he is the son of a psychiatrist, the husband of a lawyer and an Ivy League graduate who played in the major leagues for 15 years and then published a book and wrote a column for The New York Times.
"If you are the president, or a retired professional athlete, it can be all too easy to feel protected from everyday indignities. But America doesn't let any of us deny our connection to the black 'everyman,' " Glanville wrote. "And unfortunately that connection, which should be a welcome one, can be forced upon us in a way that undermines our self-esteem, our collective responsibility, and our sense of family and history."
In subsequent meetings with West Hartford town officials, Glanville was told that police had been investigating a complaint about a man going door to door offering shoveling services. A town ordinance prohibits door-to-door solicitation.
In a statement issued Tuesday, West Hartford police said that on Feb. 18, the officer was looking for a man who a resident said had been on Concord Street. A black man in his 40s, wearing a brown jacket and carrying a snow shovel, had knocked on a neighbor's door, the woman told police.
"According to the complainant, those same neighbors had issues in the recent past with a black male who had solicited money for shoveling snow," police said in the statement.
A dispatcher told the officer that a person who matched the description was last seen on Fern Street, crossing Prospect Avenue into Hartford.
"The West Hartford officer properly moved in that direction and observe[d] a man matching the description (black male, 40s, wearing a brown jacket, snow shovel) in the area of Fern Street and North Beacon Street, Hartford," police said. "The man was shoveling a driveway."
"The officer exited his vehicle and asked the man, who was later found to be Mr. Glanville, if he had been seeking work shoveling driveways," police said. "When Mr. Glanville advised that he had not, the officer then departed."
The suspect was later found at South Highland Street and Farmington Avenue and given a verbal warning for soliciting, according to police.
"While the officer's actions in searching for the suspicious party were completely appropriate, we wish he had taken the extra time to introduce himself to Mr. Glanville and to explain the purpose of the question," police said. "We have discussed this with the officer and will work to remind all of our officers of the importance of good interpersonal skills and taking time, when practical, to explain their actions."
"They had to find a way to enforce the problem in a racially neutral way, even if they were receiving complaints only on a small subsection of violators," Glanville wrote. "In my case, the officer had not only spoken to me without respect but had crossed over into a city where West Hartford's ordinance didn't even apply."
Police Chief Tracey Gove said in an email Tuesday that officers are not prohibited from conducting an investigation outside of their jurisdiction for a crime that occurred within their jurisdiction.
"The mayor of West Hartford assured me that he championed efforts to diversify his town, and the chief of police told me he is active in Connecticut's statewide Racial and Ethnic Disparity Commission in the Criminal Justice System," Glanville wrote. "I hope their continued efforts can help traverse this class- and race-based barrier, which unfortunately grows even more impenetrable with experiences such as mine."
Mayor Scott Slifka said that he and Gove have been in continued contact with Glanville since their first meeting.
Slifka said that the first thing he did when he met Glanville was to apologize on behalf of the town.
"It's unacceptable and it never should have happened," Slifka said. "It's not who we are as a town. It greatly pains me that we'd be painted in this light, but unfortunately it happened, it's true."
West Hartford often touts its diversity as a selling point. In his January "State of the Town" address, Slifka said the town has come a long way in a decade, and said he is proud that its elected officials now include two African-Americans and a Latino.
Slifka said one of the things he highlighted when Gove was hired was Gove's study and knowledge of racial issues in relation to policing.
Gove serves on the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the state Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System and has served on West Hartford's human rights commission. He wrote an article titled "Implicit Bias and Law Enforcement," which was published in a 2011 issue of The Police Chief magazine.
"Obviously, something went wrong there, and it shows as many great strides as we have made … we obviously have more work to do," Slifka said.
"What's difficult about it in general, it does serve as a vehicle for reopening perhaps some beliefs of the past and some pain of the past, it causes some to question how far we've come," he said. "I'm determined to make sure that we, as I think we have, continue to embrace our diversity wholeheartedly. We need to take extra strides to do that."
Republished from HartfordCourant.com.


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