By Brad Tregnago of KSSZ
Columbia’s police chief is taking another look at complaints against his officers about racial profiling. Ken Burton wants to know why traffic stop data shows that his officers are pulling over African-Americans more often than their white counterparts.
Racial advocates walked out of a Columbia city council meeting in July, protesting the way Burton questioned the report.
Burton says he’s spent more time speaking with minority groups like “Race Matters, Friends” and the NAACP. He says he’s had a change of heart about the data after talking with an African-American that fears he’ll be killed by a cop during a traffic stop.
“Whether I think it’s justified or not, that’s that young man’s reality,” says Burton. “We, as a society, have to do something to fix it.”
He says the department is also trying to educate the public on the best way to interact with officers during a traffic stop.
“We’ve gotta teach our officers…you’re scared walking up on that car at 11:00 at night in the dark, right? They’re just as afraid of you sometimes,” says Burton. “And if that understanding comes through on both sides I think we can make some progress.”
Burton says a young black man being killed by an officer is his “nightmare” scenario.