In Race Relations, Police `Lead by Example' Law Enforcement Conference under Way Here

Article excerpt

Want to know if you've got a racist on your police department? Just check the race of the people they're writing up for speeding tickets.

So said Neil Kurlander, chief of the Maryland Heights Police Department during a discussion Wednesday of racism in police departments.

"I had a black officer tell me that some white officers were writing tickets in a disproportionate number to black motorists," Kurlander said. "I checked it out and he was right, but then I checked him, and he had never written a ticket to an African-American."

Kurlander spoke to about 75 members attending the Seventh Annual Regional Police Chief's Conference. The session was being held Wednesday through Friday at the Embassy Suites hotel in Laclede's Landing.

The St. Louis Police Department, the Justice Department's Community Relations Service and the FBI sponsored this year's conference.

One of the subjects was racism.

It's "alive and well to some degree in each and every community in our country," said Michael Robinson, head of the Michigan State Police. "It's our (law enforcement's) responsibility to do something about it. We set the tone to what occurs in our communities, so it's important for us to lead by example."

Robinson said departments should have zero tolerance and punish guilty officers.

Former St. …