I am puzzled and a little disturbed by the commentary on a recent traffic stop in which Councilman Kai Hagen stopped to see if the person who was pulled over was OK. Nothing else happened except that he pulled over and asked if everything was OK.
Sheriff Chuck Jenkins has used the fact that Councilman Hagen did something that we would normally consider an act of kindness and support to call him a racist and demand his resignation. Perhaps Councilman Hagen didn’t fully understand the risks involved in stopping — I doubt that many of us would — but his heart was certainly in the right place. How did trying to be a good neighbor become something to be vilified for?
The fact is that although Sheriff Jenkins has used this incident to call Kai Hagen a racist, his own public words and actions have made it very clear that he, personally, has issues with people of color that are reflected in the management of his department. The sheriff’s office has a history of overly aggressive policing regarding persons of color even as far back as 2013.
Just within the last several years, we the taxpayers, have had to pay two different settlements, to Roxana Santos and Sara Medrano, totaling $625,000 because Jenkins’ officers stopped, harassed and/or arrested innocent people as part of pattern of racially discriminatory policing in Maryland.
Kai Hagen knows this and knows that the sheriff’s office has a history of aggressive policing of people of color. So, his stopping to ensure that everything was alright when he saw a person of color pulled over at night was a socially concerned thing to do.
It is not OK to vilify that. It is also not OK to hold Sheriff Jenkins up as a model for policing, given his record, nor does he have any moral ground to stand on in berating Kai Hagen. Jenkins’ mismanagement and overly aggressive policing of people of color is the root cause of this problem and it has become a very expensive problem for the residents of Frederick County.