Alaska officers violated policy in ‘white privilege’ stop
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Two Anchorage police officers violated department policy during a traffic stop last month when a woman in town for a rally by former President Donald Trump showed them a “white privilege card” instead of a driver’s license and was not ticketed, an Alaska newspaper reported.
However, it’s not clear what policy was violated or what disciplinary actions the two officers faced, if any, because the department is treating it as a confidential personnel matter, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Mimi Israelah said in a Facebook post that she was pulled over for weaving at 3:43 a.m. on July 9 while driving to a pizzeria in Anchorage after arriving on an early-morning flight from California for Trump’s rally.
She couldn’t find her driver’s license, she wrote on Facebook in a now-deleted post.
“When I saw my White Privilege card, I gave to him if it’s ok,” she wrote. “He laughed and called his partner. It’s their first time to see a White Privileged (sic) card,” she said.
The top of the novelty card reads: “White Privilege Card Trumps Everything.”
Israelah in her Twitter biography describes herself as Pinay, or a woman of Filipino origin.
A video apparently taken by Israelah of the encounter has been reposted on Twitter. Two officers are seen standing outside her car window. She asks one, “You like my White Privilege card?” One officer says, “That’s hilarious.”
Anchorage police officers identified in the incident were Nicholas Bowe and Charles Worland.
Deputy Chief Sean Case said some people who saw the post had negative reactions to it, and believed it was inappropriate. “We recognize that,” he said.
Israelah was not cited during the stop. She did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Anchorage municipal code requires that all drivers carry their license at all times when operating a vehicle. Police spokesperson Sunny Guerin said police can do a computer check to determine if a person has a valid driver’s license.
Police Sgt. Jeremy Conkling, president of the police union, said officers have discretion and generally don’t write citations for minor offenses, like not having a physical license present.
“Especially in this circumstance, where you had a very, very low-level minor offense and the officers are really just focused on trying to find DUIs — I’m not at all surprised they didn’t write a citation. I don’t know that a lot of officers would have written that citation, if any,” Conkling said.
However, Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the Alaska Black Caucus, said she wonders if the lack of citation was tied to the novelty card.
“Is it because the white privilege card was effective?” she asked.
Worland and Bowe were placed on administrative during the 11-day investigation, Case said. Police would not provide additional information about the internal investigation, including which policies were violated and what, if any, repercussions the officers faced.
“The investigation regarding the incident is completed and is a part of confidential personnel files that will not be released publicly,” Guerin said.
Another police spokesperson said both officers remain employed by the department.
Hodge Growden said she wants the police department to accept accountability for what happened and be transparent about any disciplinary actions the officers faced. This could have been a teachable moment, she said.