JEFFERSONVILLE — The Jeffersonville Fraternal Order of Police has issued a statement in which it calls recent community criticism of a new police hire an "unfair attack."
Anthony Stewart, president of the Jeffersonville FOP Lodge 100, issued the statement Friday in defense of Kevin Crawford, who was recently hired by the Jeffersonville Police Department after resigning from the Louisville Metro Police Department in June. Crawford has three pending lawsuits in which he's accused of racial profiling during his time with the LMPD, according to newsgathering partner WAVE 3 News.
One of those petitioners is Tyrone Daugherty, a motorist who was stopped by Crawford last September in Louisville for failing to signal. Police footage obtained by WAVE 3 shows Daugherty telling Crawford he has a gun in the glovebox and then giving his driver's license and conceal carry permit to the officer.
The partial video then shows Crawford order Daugherty to get out of the car, speaking in a calm and polite tone. The driver and his passenger are then searched without consent. No illegal items were found on their person or in the car, and Daugherty was issued a traffic citation.
Antia Fields, president of the Clark County NAACP, said Monday that she found out about the allegations a couple weeks ago, from Louisville media reports. Since then, community members had been calling her voicing their concerns. Last week, a protest was held in Jeffersonville regarding the officer's employment.
Fields said she's unsure of why Crawford was even considered to be a Jeffersonville police officer, and wants to know what would prevent profiling that he's accused of in Louisville from happening here.
"The NAACP does not condone any type of racial profiling or police brutality anywhere," she said, adding that her issue is with Crawford's actions in Louisville.
"We have no concerns regarding the Jeffersonville police department itself," she said. "We know they are doing a very fine job."
In his statement, Stewart said that the police footage shown in media reports has been taken out of context. He also said that an internal investigation by the LMPD found that Crawford had not violated any department policy, and he has been cleared. As of the time the statement was issued Friday, Crawford had no disciplinary actions in his personnel file for either the Jeffersonville or Louisville departments.
"I trust our community will not rush to judgment until due process has been administered using any information available...," the statement reads, in part.
Stewart also addressed suggestions in the community that Crawford had left the Louisville department surrounding the accusations of racial profiling, indicating that Crawford already had ties to Southern Indiana, having grown up here.
"We feel it would be irresponsible to report or assume that Mr. Crawford left for any reason other than to come back to his hometown and serve the community in which he was raised," Stewart said.
A second lawsuit involves driver Tae-Ahn Lea, who was 18 when he was pulled over in August 2018 for an improper turn and eventually handcuffed, his body and car searched before being released, WAVE 3 reported. Crawford was one of five officers to respond to that scene.
Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said following that incident that there would be changes made to departmental policies on handcuffing and searching. The department's standard operating procedures listed online reflect that in a section revised Aug. 1, 2019, officers should not handcuff a subject who is not under arrest unless they have "reasonable and articulable belief that the subject presents a danger to the officer or another person," it reads, in part.
"Merely being in a high-crime area or being the subject of an investigative stop are not sufficient factors, by themselves, to restrain a person who is not under arrest," it reads. "Officers will not restrain persons who are not under arrest as a matter of routine."
One of Fields' questions had been about what is being done to ensure that this officer would not engage in racial profiling now that he's on the Jeffersonville Police Department. Stewart reported that Crawford had completed more than 300 hours of training required of new Jeffersonville officers, including a Department of Justice training component titled "Preventing Racial Profiling."
The News and Tribune left voicemail and email messages at the JPD seeking comment from Police Chief Kenny Kavanaugh and Crawford; no messages had been returned by press time.
Fields said she hopes to speak with the mayor of Jeffersonville, as well as getting a direct line of communication to the Jeffersonville Police merit commission.
"We are not coming to any conclusion," she said. "We just want conversations, communications about this."