Police: Commissioner interfered with stop
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
What looked like a routine traffic stop turned into a heated verbal exchange between a member of a voluntary city advisory commission and a Roseville Police officer. Now it could even lead to criminal charges.
Janet Delmore, the chair of Roseville's Human Rights Commission, has been accused by the Roseville Police Department of causing a disturbance during a traffic stop July 24 near Hamline Avenue North and Oakcrest.
Both parties agree Delmore was not directly involved in the traffic stop as either a driver or passenger.
As of the Review's deadline, the Roseville City Attorney was still considering possible charges against Delmore.
According to a report written by Officer Brady Martin, he pulled a vehicle over because it had what he thought was an illegally dark window tint.
While talking to the driver and his passenger, Martin reported he smelled marijuana. When asked, the report says, the driver admitted to occasionally smoking marijuana in the vehicle.
The report states, "As I was completing my search of the passenger, I observed a white female that appeared to be confused about what I was doing. When asked if she needed assistance she said she didn't. She then began to approach me and the suspects and verbally ID'd herself as Janet Delmore, the head of the "Human Rights Commission.'"
The report further states Delmore told Martin she'd received an anonymous tip about the traffic stop. Martin wrote he asked Delmore to stand back and told her he would speak with her when he was finished with the stop.
According to the report, Delmore agreed to move back but approached two more times, each time being warned again to step back. Martin reportedly found only "marijuana "shake'" - or residue - and a package of fireworks he took from the car.
The report says at one point the car's driver told Delmore to go away.
The report concludes, "Before speaking with Delmore I activated my digital recorder. As I was putting the fireworks in my squad Delmore yelled out to me that she would take them from me and give them to the courts. I told Delmore I would not give her any evidence. I attempted to explain to Delmore that despite her standing as the "Human Rights Chair' she could not impede or obstruct my legal traffic stop. I told Delmore that next time she wishes to observe she needs to do so from a distance further away. Delmore asked me how many feet is far enough. I told Delmore that I did not know how many feet was enough. Delmore stated that she would ask her husband, who is a lawyer, to look it up in statute."
In an interview with the Review, Delmore said of Martin's accusations, "I did exactly what he said."
She said after she received a tip she went to the scene, which was near her home, to observe how the situation was handled.
Delmore said she heard Martin say he pulled the vehicle over for tinted windows. She believes the Roseville Police Department doesn't have the technology to determine if windows are illegally tinted.
"Then he said he smelled pot or something," Delmore added. "They didn't find anything."
Delmore said, "The young man said "Be my guest, search my car,'" a quote not reflected in Martin's report.
Delmore also said that after the stop she saw a second police vehicle follow the suspects out of town.
Delmore suggested that if Martin were serious about his complaint about her, he would have acted at the scene.
"If he thought I was a threat he could have called for back-up or sicced the dog on me," she said.
Martin's K9 partner was in his squad car.
"The officer was embarrassed. I felt he just didn't like me standing there," Delmore added. "If he truly felt threatened, then why didn't he take more action?"
Delmore also said the driver of the car was Hispanic and the passenger was African-American, leading her to believe racial profiling might have played a role.
Delmore admitted past exchanges with the police department may have worked against her.
"I've raised issues with the Roseville Police Department before," she said. "I'm not one of their favorite people."
Delmore said she has no intention to stop speaking out when she feels its necessary, particularly for those she feels aren't being properly treated.
"The truth is, I'm their commissioner too," she said. "I'm sure there aren't other human rights commissioners who are this passionate."
As far potential criminal charges, Delmore said, "If they want to file charges. . . I'll show up and tell the truth. I'm going to wait and see what happens."
Asked about his response, Roseville Mayor Craig Klausing said he took particular exception to the quote in a metro daily newspaper in which Delmore referred to the Roseville Police Department as "cowboys."
"Calling them "cowboys' is neither fair or accurate," Klausing said.
Klausing also responded to Delmore's assertion the vehicle was pulled over because of racial profiling.
He said he hasn't heard complaints about profiling in Roseville and suggested, "If she has some information on this, bring it to the council."
The mayor also said he was concerned Delmore identified herself as the chair of the city's Human Rights Commission, saying there was no reason for her to do so.
Asked about how members are brought onto and released from Roseville commissions, Klausing explained since it's the city council that appoints members of advisory commissions, it's his understanding it's also the city council which can decide to remove them from a commission before the expiration of their current term.
Delmore was originally appointed to the commission in November 2003 and was re-appointed in April 2006. Her current term runs through March 31, 2009.
Roseville Police Chief Carol Sletner said, "I, and the rest of the police department, stand behind the actions of the officer. He did everything by the book. He was polite, he was professional, everything we expect from our officers."
George Fairbanks can be reached at email@example.com or at 651-748-7813.
Click here for the police report on the incident [Page 1] [Page 2].
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