Burlington, VT — Two men discovered by Vermont State Police trooper Jared Hatch to be in the United States illegally have filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission alleging racial profiling by him.
Green Mountain Scribes attempted to confirm the filing of such a complaint with a staff member in the office of the Vermont Human Rights Commission, who indicated they could neither confirm nor deny whether a complaint has been filed.
However, local media reports confirm that Danilo Lopez and Antonio Meza-Sandoval, both from Mexico and by their own admission in the United States illegally, have indeed filed such a complaint against trooper Hatch.
The filing of the complaint stems from events that took place on the morning of September 13, reported by Green Mountain Scribes in a previous article titled “VT Governor Wants to “Make Sure” that Police “Look the Other Way” From Illegal Aliens”.
To summarize events of September 13, trooper Hatch stopped a pickup truck he observed traveling north at 88 mph in a 65 mph zone of Interstate 89 in the town of Middlesex. The occupants of the truck included its driver, identified as Bill Hoag, a U.S. Citizen residing in Randolph, Vermont and the two undocumented aliens.
With justifiable cause to have stopped the vehicle, trooper Hatch then approached the occupants from the passenger side of the vehicle, an increasingly common practice for police officers, particularly on interstate highways where police are at significant risk of being struck by vehicles traveling at high speeds. Data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund indicates that traffic fatalities are a leading cause of police officer fatalities nationally.
On the advice of U.S. Border Patrol, troopers detained Danilo and Antonio and relinquished the two men to the Border Patrol, who released them later that same day.
Subsequently, Danilo and members of activists groups have publicly accused trooper Hatch and the Vermont State Police of for no other reason than race immediately focusing on himself and Antonio. However, fair and objective review of the dash camera video* from trooper Hatch’s cruiser raises serious questions and concerns about the legitimacy of allegations made.
Within the first few minutes of the video, trooper Hatch is seen approaching the passenger side of the truck. He stands directly outside the passenger side window briefly observing and assessing the situation. Not persuaded by his presence there to open the window, trooper Hatch then knocks on the window and more time elapses before the window is eventually opened and discussion between the trooper and the driver begins.
The raw video from trooper Hatch’s cruiser does not provide casual observers any obvious evidence of whatever transpired among the occupants within the cab of the truck while he observed them and patiently waited for the window to be opened. Objectively, it is here to be considered that active police officers in Vermont receive specific training in observing and interpreting behaviors, actions, etc. and certain exhibited behaviors and actions raise red flags among trained professionals.
Background traffic noise throughout the over 46 minutes of raw video from trooper Hatch’s cruiser makes discerning some communications among trooper Hatch, the men in the truck, and other troopers difficult and in instances the dialogue is inaudible.
Despite this, what can be discerned from this video and is supported by the additional videos is that at no point does trooper Hatch (or the other troopers involved) exhibit any obvious conduct or language suggesting racial profiling. Contrarily, the videos are rather uneventful, but these do provide insight into the at times mundane nature of police work.
None of the troopers appears to violate the Vermont State Police Bias-Free Policing Procedures. Rather, viewed objectively it becomes apparent that this traffic stop became lengthy because the troopers were taking great pains to assure compliance with it.
*On September 28, Green Mountain Scribes requested of the Vermont State Police a copy of trooper hatch’s dash camera video and, courteously and without hesitation, VSP provided copies of not only trooper Hatch’s dash camera video, but also copies of the dash camera videos from two additional VSP cruisers on scene.
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