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, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
However, it’s not clear what policy was violated or what, if any, disciplinary actions the officers faced, because the department is treating it as a confidential personnel matter, according to Anchorage Police Department Director of Community Relations Sunny Guerin.
Officers Nicholas Bowe and Charles Worland with the Impaired Driving Enforcement Unit conducted a traffic stop on July 7 “for a car weaving in the lane,” Guerin said. She didn’t identify the driver, who she said showed a “white privilege” card during the stop.
Bowe and Worland did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday.
Days after the traffic stop, Mimi Israelah said in a Facebook post that she was pulled over for weaving at 3:43 a.m. 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 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.
Israelah could not be reached for comment.
“Officers observed no signs of impairment,” Guerin said. “No citations were issued.”
Guerin added that officers are able to check if a person has a valid license with the help of a computer check, which Bowe and Worland did, she said.
A video of the encounter apparently taken by Israelah 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.”
In a message posted to the Anchorage Police Department’s website, Chief Michael Kerle said he wanted, “to personally address the community to provide some clarity regarding [their] internal standards of conduct.”
“I know we are all human,” he said in the statement. “But we belong to a profession that does not tolerate, practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination. This profession requires our employees to treat everyone with respect and be culturally aware and competent.”
It is not clear if this statement was made in relation to the July 7 traffic stop.
Deputy Chief Sean Case said some who saw the post had negative reactions and believed it was inappropriate. “We recognize that,” he said.
Anchorage municipal code requires that all drivers carry a license when operating a vehicle.
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 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.