Police and Race in the Twin Cities

GLT's nationally award winning five part investigative series on the issues at the heart of tension between citizens who say they are mistreated by law enforcement and the police who must balance combating crime with balancing individual rights.

President Obama is calling for a sustained national conversation about what he calls "simmering distrust" between police and minority communities. We begin a five-part series on police and race in the Twin Cities. From a four month WGLT investigation, you'll hear from citizens who say they feel police target them and from police who must balance combating crime with safeguarding individual rights. Judy Valente has this report.

Grand Jury decisions in Ferguson Missouri and New York City not to indict white officers for killing unarmed black men has provoked a kind of national Rorschach test on race. According to a Pew Research Center study, blacks, by a an overwhelming margin, say the Ferguson shooting raises critical racial issues and that the police quote "went too far" in responding to subsequent protests. Only 9 percent of blacks said they agreed with the Grand Jury's decision.

Traffic stops account for the most common encounters citizens have with local law enforcement. Most stops are routine. Others can provoke considerable tension. In Illinois, minority drivers are twice as likely as whites to be stopped and searched for drugs or weapons, even though contraband is found more often on whites. Under a Freedom of Information Act request, WGLT's Judy Valente reviewed 90 traffic stops that occurred over two days in Bloomington and Normal. Part 3 of the GLT News investigative series "Police and Race in the Twin Cities" uncovered some surprising results.

Over the past four decades, courts and legislatures have given increasingly broad powers to the police. According to constitutional law experts, there's been a corresponding decrease in citizen's rights. In the 4th part of the GLT News investigative series "Police and Race in the Twin Cities," Judy Valente reports on how routine traffic stops can escalate into more serious confrontations, and on the difficulties citizens face in pressing claims of civil rights violations by police.

In the mostly minority Ferguson, Missouri neighborhood where Michael Brown lived, residents have taken what they call a pro-active approach to monitoring police. A group called "We Copwatch" donated cameras to neighborhood residents so they can record police interactions. Nearly 14 years ago, leaders in McLean County tackled the issue of minority-police relationships using a different approach. GLT's Jon Norton has more in the 5th and final part of the GLT News investigative series "Police and Race in the Twin Cities."