Former Arizona police officer tells story of being racial profiling victim

TUCSON – The man you’re about to meet served in Vietnam and spent 30 years in law enforcement before retiring as a detective. Because of his background, he wants to remain anonymous, but he also wants his story to be told; proving that racial profiling can happen to anyone.

“Look at me, I’m Hispanic.”

That’s the reason this retired officer says he was stopped at the Lakeville Port of Entry in November of last year.

He and his family were on their way back home from Rocky Point in Arizona, a trip they’d made dozens of times, but this time it was different. He says he was asked to get out of the car without explanation, and then he was handcuffed and taken to a secured room while his truck, trailer and fifth wheel were all searched. He claims agents had no reasonable suspicion for their actions and neglected his rights by handcuffing him.

“Profiling is profiling and it’s easy, easy to profile. The easiest thing in the world.”

Law enforcement or not, he says no one should be disrespected the way he was that day. That’s why he’s complained to U.S. Custom Border Protection and Congressman Ron Barber’s office.

“I don’t want anybody fired, but I want them to understand they cannot treat Americans on American soil that way. I didn’t think it would ever, ever happen to me. Ever!”

Isabel Garcia with Coalicion de Derechos Humanos says the officer should not be surprised.

“Outside of the uniform, you look like I do, and the rest of the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. You’re a part of them,” she says.

Now that officer is asking others, who serve and protect, to speak out to their elected officials and fellow officers.

“There’s nothing wrong with correcting your fellow officer. It’s better if you do it before it gets out of hand.”

He’s requested the agents involved go through sensitivity training and the initial agent have a letter of reprimand placed in his file. He still hasn’t heard back from the CPB.

KVOA followed up with the department. CBP wouldn’t talk to us on camera, but did release a statement. It says the rules are different at a U.S. Port of Entry, where reasonable suspicion is not required to make an investigatory stop. It did not comment on handcuffing the retired officer.

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