Dear Chief Whitely,
What measures has the Elyria police department taken to address racial bias in policing?
I avoid the city since I was involved in two unprovoked police stops. My boyfriend was pulled over outside Olive Garden where we shared a Valentine’s Day meal. The officer accused him of dealing drugs to me. I am white. He is Black. The officer’s justification for the stop? Failure to use a turn signal when pulling out of a parking space. This time I stood and watched in the zero degrees. The other time I was already driving away. We don’t dine in Elyria any more. We don’t visit your city any more.
I fear for my boyfriend’s safety around police. I fear for my Black friends and colleagues who live in Elyria. It is difficult for me to patronize businesses in Elyria without knowing:
What training have Elyria officers received to deal with race-based bias? Why does Elyria not have a police oversight board with community representation? What is Elyria’s relationship to broken windows policing? What is EPD doing to ensure that black lives matter?
I ask because I believe that people are fundamentally good, but that racism exists within and outside all individuals.
I ask because I love Lorain County. I ask because I love one of your native sons.
Some concrete suggestions for your website: report data on police stops in your annual reports, and post the reports for the years after 2012. Make it as easy to report police misconduct as to nominate officers for awards. And please, provide answers to my questions not only in a letter, but in public presentations, including to the Chronicle-Telegram.
Cc: Mayor Holly Brinda, MPA
City Councilor Donna Mitchell, Chair of the Committee on Utilities, Safety & Environment
Editorial Page Editor, Chronicle-Telegram
President Ardelia Tolbert, Elyria Chapter of the NAACP