Call for diversity training stems from incident involving off-duty firefighter

Published: Aug. 21, 2013 at 1:59 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2013 at 1:41 AM CDT
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A call for increased police training stems from a traffic stop involving an off-duty Evansville firefighter.

Friends of George Madison, the firefighter stopped by police after he didn't stop at a stop sign while riding his bicycle, say officers need to undergo diversity training when placed on certain beats.

Madison tells 14 News that he met with Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Chief Billy Bolin on Tuesday to try to bring something positive out of a very bad situation.

Many who live in that area where that stop took place say for that to happen some changes need to be made downtown at police headquarters.

When 14 News asked Madison's friend, Cameran Darrett if he has seen profiling take place in that area, he said, "Yeah, I've been a product of it."

Darrett isn't surprised his good friend Madison was stopped and placed in handcuffs by police. He's wasn't surprised when he said Madison told him the officer was aggressive, angry, and threatened to taze him, but once Darrett heard a police investigation cleared that officer of any wrong-doing, all he could do was shake his head.

"It's noted that once he found out that George was a fireman he backed off of him, which means that he was profiling them, so it was wrong," Darrett said.

Darrett says it's very hard for him to believe Madison was stopped just because he rode his bike through this stop sign. The bigger crime, Darrett believes, is the way he says Madison was treated by the officer.

"Once the guy found out who he was, who he knew, he backed off of him. Then there was a restored sense of humanity for him and it's like he was human the whole time," Darrett said.

He says it's an on-going problem in the community that he's tired of hearing about. Evansville police admitted there are lessons to be learned from this incident.

Darrett believes if police want to get to the root of the problem, diversity training should be mandatory for officers.

"For guys that are coming from out of these areas that are coming in to do these beats, they need to understand who we are," Darrett said. "They're here to serve and protect not to control and patrol."

Madison says he's not going to seek legal counsel and he's not going to sue. He tells 14 News that he's working with the mayor, police chief, and his pastor to make sure something good comes out of this.

Police say stopping someone on a bike for a traffic violation is common very common.  They say since April 1 of this year, they have stopped 63 people on their bikes for traffic violations. Most walk away with a warning.

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