ACLU, NAACP Call for Apology, Full Records About Maryland State Police Investigation of Racial Slur Incident in Somerset County

Affiliate: ACLU of Maryland
March 2, 2010 12:00 am

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PRINCESS ANNE, MD – Calling on the state’s preeminent law enforcement agency to be open and accountable to the public it serves, the Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches, Somerset County Branch of the NAACP, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (ACLU) joined together today to take action regarding a voicemail message containing a racial slur left on the cell phone of Teleta Dashiell by Maryland State Police (MSP) Sergeant John Maiello on November 5, 2009. The NAACP called for an apology to the victim as well as better cultural sensitivity training for troopers. The ACLU announced the filing of a Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) request on behalf of Ms. Dashiell to obtain MSP records regarding the investigation the state police conducted of the incident.

“As protectors of the whole community, the Maryland State Police must take racial slurs and their accountability to the public seriously,” said Kirkland J. Hall, Sr., President, Somerset County NAACP. “That’s why the NAACP is calling for the trooper to apologize to the victim, as well as for better cultural sensitivity training for state troopers generally. Clearly, the training done now isn’t working.”

On November 5, 2009, MSP Sergeant Maiello left an offensive voicemail message containing a racial slur on the cell phone of Ms. Dashiell, a resident of Somerset County. Although the MSP closed their investigation into the incident during the second week of February 2010, they have refused to release any details of the content or results of the investigation or whether Sergeant Maiello, who remains a state trooper, was reprimanded or disciplined in any way.

Under a recent en banc decision by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in a public information case brought against the MSP by the ACLU and NAACP, seeking documents related to racial profiling complaints, the MSP was ordered to produce such investigatory records. The appeals court said, “The common sense meaning of the term ‘personnel record[s] of an individual’ would not include investigative files of a police department concerning racial profiling.”

“The courts have now made clear that race discrimination complaints against police officers and officials involving on-the-job conduct are just the kind of records the public has a right to see,” said ACLU of Maryland Legal Director Deborah Jeon. “The state police must stop the stonewalling and provide a detailed report as to what this investigation revealed, and what action the department is taking to address it.”

“Many African Americans communities are patrolled by the police, and many assume that the police look down on the black community. So when an officer makes negative and derogatory comments such as the ones made in this case, it does nothing to build a positive relationship,” said Gerald G. Stansbury, President, Maryland NAACP. “This is another case that shows the significance of the ruling from the Court of Special Appeals allowing NAACP to inspect state police records regarding racial profiling complaints. If police departments hope to move forward, build and sustain community trust and confidence, they must not tolerate officers who do not treat African Americans with the same respect as they do any other race.”

Maryland Public Information Act request prepared by ACLU of Maryland Legal Director Deborah Jeon.

Go online to read the NAACP/ACLU request:

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