NAACP, Ames PD discuss racial tension

Melissa Richards

The Ames chapter of the NAACP and the Ames Police Department came together at City Hall on Monday night in the first of four planned discussion groups aimed at facilitating an educational dialogue about the recent spotlight on racial tension between African-American citizens and law enforcement officers.

Edna Clinton, president of the Ames chapter of the NAACP, said while the NAACP meets much more frequently, the agenda for these quarterly meetings is discussing and preventing racial bias from impacting local law enforcement.

“We will deal with some issues that may get a little involved,” Clinton said. “But we felt that we should start with something low key to let the community know that the Ames Police Department and the NAACP are serious about bridging the gaps between the two entities.” 

Cmdr. Geoff Huff of the Ames Police Department discussed the policies surrounding traffic enforcement and what citizens can expect from officers if they are pulled over. Huff explains that “officers are trained to be alert [and] to expect the unexpected” even during routine traffic stops.

Rummaging for an insurance card in the glove compartment as the officer approaches might seem helpful, but to an officer trained to detect and address threatening situations it may be unclear if what you are reaching for is harmless.

Huff explained to the audience that although officers are trained in diversity courses while at the academy, the most effective training takes place during daily interactions with the diverse community of Ames.

Huff said the stop-analysis system used by the Ames Police Department indicates that the most stopped demographic is white men between the ages of 18 and 25.

The next meeting is set to take place in November.