Scott County Sheriff meets with man who accused deputies of racial profiling

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UPDATE 10/20/20 10 A.M:

SCOTT COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ)- The Scott County Sheriff says his office has had a productive discussion with the author of a social media post accusing the office of racial profiling.

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Sheriff Tony Hampton says he showed Coach Tim Fuller body camera video of the traffic stop he was involved in and explained why so many questions were asked about the ownership of the car he was in and where he was from.

“This was not a one-sided presentation. This was an opportunity for both parties to review video together and discuss actions taken on both sides,” Hampton said.

Fuller wrote a social media post about the traffic stop over the weekend, suggesting deputies pulled him over because of the color of his skin. Sheriff Hampton says he felt Fuller was thankful for the invitation to review the encounter. He says Fuller even invited members of the Sheriff’s Office to make a presentation about law enforcement at the school he coaches at.

“In short, this meeting was exactly how the Scott County Sheriff’s Office wishes to handle questions or concerns that citizens have about interactions with our deputies…The definition of the word community is ‘a unified body of individuals’. The goal today of our meeting was to unify Scott County not divide. It is not about who’s right or who’s wrong. It was to set the example of two sides with different views coming together through positive and constructive communication,” the Sheriff said.

ORIGINAL STORY 10/20/20:

SCOTT COUNTY, Ky (WTVQ) – A weekend social media post accused deputies involved in a traffic stop of making that stop because of the color of the driver’s skin.

Below is the Sheriff’s department social media posts concerning the issue:

The Scott County Sheriff’s Office was made aware of a social media post from Saturday that makes several allegations against two deputies from our agency.  The post which is labeled “Blue Lights” draws several conclusions based on the driver’s perception and personal feelings about the encounter.   We have worked the last two days gathering facts about the stop so that we could respond in both a professional and responsible manner.  Part of our investigation was to review body camera footage from the primary officer on the traffic stop.   As part of our commitment to be transparent, we will be releasing this video as soon as our office can address confidentiality requirements related to the content shared by the driver during the stop.  This will allow the public the opportunity to review the facts related to the traffic stop.

While the person or persons who created the social media post hasn’t reached out to our office to voice any formal complaints we understand from their post they have questions about why some things took place.  We have always had an open-door policy for citizens to come to sheriff’s office and ask questions but in this case, we feel it is necessary for us to provide some clarity to some of the points that the poster makes.  We take this action because we do not want a social media post to create distrust in law enforcement officials that serve Scott County.

The traffic stop was a legal traffic stop for a violation of Kentucky Driving Laws.  The Commonwealth of Kentucky allows peace officers the right to stop any vehicle that violates a state traffic violation.   At all hours of the day, minor traffic violations enforcement is important for traffic safety.   These traffic infractions, even minor ones, can lead to deputies finding impaired drivers, thus making Scott County roads safer.

Once stopped, the driver did not have his driver’s license in his possession.  By not having it, the deputies are required to ask additional questions to confirm the driver’s identity.  He told deputies he just moved from one neighborhood to his current home just down the street from where the stop occurred.  While waiting for dispatch to confirm driver’s license status, deputies engaged in conversation about him recently moving, after he, the driver, brought the topic up.

The driver of the vehicle was also operating a vehicle owned by another person which had out of state tags.   The deputy then asked additional questions about ownership of car since residents who move to Kentucky are required by law to register their vehicles in Kentucky.   Since the vehicle was from out of state, these additional questions are normal procedure.

Based on our review of the traffic stop and the way it was conducted, there is absolutely no basis for the allegation that this lawful traffic stop was made because of the color of skin or that the deputies had any issues with where this driver lived or the neighborhood he was driving in.  Based on our review, the deputies did not violate any policy or procedure and their actions and statements were necessary to conduct the traffic stop in a complete and thorough manner as the public expects.

The Scott County Sheriff’s Office firmly believes that social media can be a great tool to reach out with positive and encouraging messages.  Sometimes, when an individuals or group tries to discuss complex social issues only one side of a topic can be presented with no rebuttal or corrections.  When social media post and its subsequent comments use terms like “Racial Profiling” to divide a community without all facts being presented, it can be very irresponsible because of the damage it does to all members of a community and those sworn to protect it.   We believe in the following days as we release the video and the public sees how the deputies performed their duties, it will solidify the previous held opinion that no law enforcement officer in Scott County makes traffic stops for anything other than traffic violations, never for the color of skin.

Respectfully,

Tony Hampton, Scott County Sheriff