Oppenheim: Pulled Over And Profiled

Sep 13, 2018

Dominic is my daughter’s boyfriend and the good news is I like him. The not-so-good news is that he got pulled over in Wyoming by highway cops and endured what appears to be a case of profiling.

When he called me to tell me what happened his frustration came through loud and clear.

It all went down on a cross-country trip home from California in his maroon Subaru Impreza with Vermont plates. Suddenly, the Highway Patrol was behind on his tail. One squad car pulled him over. Another came along to assist.

Later, an officer acknowledged he was going just 3 miles over the limit. So Dom didn’t get stopped for speeding; he got stopped for being out-of-state on a thoroughfare where police are looking for drug traffickers.

Things probably got worse when they looked at him. Dom has a lot of tattoos – and it wasn’t long before they asked him to step out of the car, saying “This will go faster if you just tell us where the drugs are.”

Dom explained he wasn’t carrying anything of the kind, but he agreed to let them search while he waited in a police vehicle. Adding to his anxiety, he was bringing back two cats, both in the backseat.

For an hour, police searched the car. And when they found nothing, they told him they were just doing their jobs but added they were also still sure he was carrying drugs and they just couldn’t find them – to which Dom sarcastically replied “Protect and Serve.”

To me, Dominic admitted that he felt violated, unable to do much but wait until it was over. And he wondered how much worse things might have gotten if he were also a person of color.

Sometimes we face tough choices that can leave us feeling awful, both about the ordeal itself, or even the part we played in it.

Any one of us would feel vulnerable in a situation like this. Any one of us would experience lingering anger and resentment, and I give Dominic credit for keeping his composure – and finding the way to bring himself – and his two cats – safely back to Vermont.