Kirkland Police did not Act Racially, Says Report
Kirkland Police said their officers did not violate any internal policy when they helped the owner of a frozen-yogurt shop expel a black man from the store in November. However, the department has said to have a new code for officers attending such calls.
Byron Ragland, 31, was at a Kirkland Menchie’s on the last November after being appointed by a court to oversee an outing between a mother and son. The court has appointed his work as a special advocate and visitation supervisor. The owner of the shop called 911 stating that the employee at the store was scared as the young man was sitting in the shop for a long time and not bought anything. As the Police arrived, he was asked for his personal details and was asked to leave as per the wish of the owner. He immediately left without saying anything. But, after a few media houses covered that news, it became viral and a way to condemn the actions of the officers.
The Kirkland Police department later apologized for the act and promised to conduct an internal investigation. Also, the department promised to have training for implicit bias.
The statement released on Friday says officers handled the call as per the norms stated by the department and they did not act on a racial basis. But, the officers missed the chance to mediate between the employees and Ragland.
The department also said they have also announced a protocol through which the officers will be able to attend so-called ‘unwanted persons’ calls. The protocol also states the officer to try to mediate between the business owner and the person in question. And, the person before being asked to leave needs to be informed about the reason for forcing him to leave.
Also, it advised the officers to make understand the owner if there is no valid reason for making a person to leave. The whole incident needs to be documented before clearing the call.
In an interview meant for an internal investigation, the woman whose visit was being monitored by Ragland said following her clarification; the officers demanded his ID. She felt vulnerable at that moment and said sorry to Ragland because of this. Ragland responded saying that the incident was nothing new, he was habitual to incidents like this.
Kirkland Police department tried to contact Ragland for investigation purpose, but he could not be contacted. He was said to be unsupportive to the Police for the internal investigation.
In an interview for the internal investigation, the store owner, Ramon Cruz, said that after several robbery cases at various businesses at gunpoint, he had instructed the employees to report any suspicious activities by any visitors. Cruz stated that the incident happened not because of color but because of abundance of caution.
According to one employee, she informed the owner about a weird guy who had been sitting for hours without purchasing anything, and she was scared. The owner then called 911 to report the incident to Police. After the officers made Ragland leave the complex, one officer allegedly said one of the employees that this case would be going to be viewed as racism.
As per the statistics, Kirkland police had responded 674 “unwanted person” calls in 2018. And out of the total persons related to these cases, 13 percent were black. And it should be reported here that Kirkland consists of 1.2 percent black people as per Census data.
A “Culture of Accountability Report” from the 911 agency NORCOM also had done one investigation and said that the call taker in 911 did not act on a racial basis and followed due norms and procedures. However, it also had promised to train more efficiently to handle calls reporting an unwanted subject.
Though the investigation was done internally, there should be an investigation by the independent organization if the aggrieved party is not satisfied. There should be no tolerance for Racism anywhere in the whole United States. Officers should also be trained to attend these calls efficiently.