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State senator accuses Chicago cop of profiling

A black Illinois state senator said he was the victim of racial profiling when a white officer pulled his car over and waved a gun in his face.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A black state senator who says he was the victim of racial profiling and mistreatment when a white officer pulled over his car told a church congregation Sunday that he wants a uniform code of conduct for traffic stops.

“America has a problem,” Sen. James Meeks told worshippers at the 10,000-seat House of Hope Church, where he serves as head pastor. “It should not be left to the individual discretion of each and every police officer on what to do and not to do.”

Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline drew loud applause when he told the congregation that the department does not condone racial profiling or rude behavior by officers. The department would work with an expert to review training, he said.

“We recognize that there are officers who do not treat everyone with dignity and respect,” he said.

Meeks and Cline met for about 30 minutes before the service, although Cline said they did not address specifics about Wednesday night’s stop because it was still under investigation. Meeks and his family were scheduled to meet Monday with the Office of Professional Standards to go over their version of events.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Dave Bayless said Sunday that no action had been taken against the 34-year-old sergeant, whose name was not released, and that the 10-year veteran remained on duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Meeks, 48, an Independent from Chicago’s South Side, said the traffic stop occurred Wednesday night when his driver was taking him, his wife and his son home from the House of Hope Church.

Meeks said the officer pulled over their vehicle after they passed his police car stopped in the middle of a street. When Meeks got out of the car, the officer allegedly pulled out his gun and repeatedly yelled at Meeks to get back inside his vehicle.

The officer issued four tickets, including one for failure to stop at a stop sign and another for an unfastened seat belt, the senator said.

His claims come just weeks after a review of thousands of traffic stops by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which found that minority drivers were more likely than white drivers to be pulled over and to get tickets.