Police in Vermont city strip searched black men as they stepped off the train

Institutional racism was ingrained in the small city of Rutland, Vermont.

Andy Todd, a former Rutland, Vt. police officer, says he has been the victim of racism in Vermont.
Andy Todd, a former Rutland, Vt. police officer, says he has been the victim of racism in Vermont. –The Boston Globe / Caleb Kenna

Rutland is a small city in Vermont—as of the 2010 census, it had a population of about 16,000—that has a big problem. Not only is the city plagued with heroin, but the way in which authorities try to battle that beast perpetuate the long-standing issue of institutional racism, The Boston Globe’s Farah Stockman points out.

Stockman agrees that police there must have a difficult job, but says there’s a right way and a wrong way to carry that out.

“Rutland chose the wrong way,’’ she writes. “Two white police officers — Sergeant John Johnson and Officer Earl Post — began strip-searching black men coming off the Amtrak train.’’

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Andy Todd, the only black officer on Rutland’s force, filed a lawsuit, and that led to an internal affairs investigation that showed when Johnson found white people with drugs, he arrested them 12 percent of the time. When he found black people with drugs, he arrested them 87 percent of the time.

Stockman notes that whatever your thoughts on racial profiling, studies show the practice actually makes police less effective. And officers who “abuse their authority over black people,’’ she writes, tend to not take issue with abusing their authority in general.

Stockman uncovers more issues in this seemingly idyllic New England town, like how Johnson would sleep with the same women he used an informants, and how he set out to seek vengeance on a black man who—after he was wrongfully arrested—sued the city and won a civil rights settlement.

Read the full Globe story here.

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