Author of Letter: Captain Bob Parish, Colorado State Patrol
Date of Letter: January 8, 1996
Contents of Letter:
Response by Colorado State Patrol to my initial complaint letter as well as my rebuttals to certain parts of the letter.
How can you view my rebuttals?
Just click on the hyperlinked parts of the letter to get my rebuttal to that part of the letter.
Dear Mr. Perez:
I again apologize for the delay in responding to your concerns of December 7, 1995. As Sergeant Johnson explained earlier, the number of issues raised and officers involved complicated matters to a degree.
At this time I feel comfortable addressing each issue raised in your letter, with the exception of the actions of the Denver Police officer. The Denver Police Department conducts its own investigations.
Your driving behavior on December 7, 1995 drew the attention of State Troopers Randy Rahne and Gerald Lincoln. These troopers were returning to the Fort Collins area after conducting and instructing a class on The Detection and Apprehension Of The Drinking And Drugged Driver at our State Patrol Academy.
Your driving was observed by these officers initially in the area of eastbound Colorado Interstate 70. The troopers witnessed your vehicle accelerate rapidly and brake rapidly in rush hour traffic. Coincidentally the vehicle you were rapidly braking to avoid running into was being operated by an off duty state trooper. This off duty trooper was also witness to your driving behavior and brought it to the attention of troopers [Randy] Rahne and [Gerald] Lincoln who were in a marked (overhead lights and door markings) State Patrol car. It was the opinion of these three (3) State Troopers that your driving behavior was at a minimum an act of careless driving and behavior frequently exhibited by intoxicated drivers. Therefore the purpose for executing the stop of your vehicle was: 1.) To inform you of your driving behavior and 2.) To investigate the sobriety of the vehicle's driver, namely you. The stop was justified and based on reasonable suspicion and probable cause and not harassment.
The initial investigation of your sobriety was conducted by Trooper [Randy] Rahne through the use of a standardized set of physical maneuvers (roadside tests). These physical maneuvers have been recognized and adopted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For these maneuvers to be effective in determining the sobriety of a suspected intoxicated driver, each must be performed to the best of the driver's ability. The instructions given are an important part of each maneuver, therefore the ability of the suspected driver to understand these instructions is critical. With this in mind, I can understand Trooper [Randy] Rahne's question regarding your ethnic background and your ability to comprehend the English language. Additionally, informing a driver these maneuvers are strictly voluntary is an elementary facet of training for law enforcement officers and it would be extremely unlikely that a certified instructor in this discipline would overlook the advisement. Possible explanations for your not hearing or recalling this initial portion of the instructions could have been the background noise of passing traffic or you[r] repeated interruptions of Trooper [Randy] Rahne's instructions.
During your performance of these physical maneuvers Trooper [Randy] Rahne was unable to detect an odor of intoxicating beverage upon your breath. With this absence he turned his attention to the possibility of intoxication by drugs, either prescription or illegal.
At this time Trooper [Gerald] Lincoln was asked to make some observations of your physical appearance and ask some additional questions to determine if this could possibly be the reason for your erratic driving witnessed earlier. Trooper [Gerald] Lincoln is also a certified instructor in the area of detection and apprehension of intoxicated drivers.
The investigation of a driver possibly under the influence of drugs is much like that for alcohol, with the first stage being the elimination of possible alcohol influence. Upon your satisfactory completion of a preliminary breath test, Trooper [Gearld] Lincoln asked if you had any medical problems. With the response of a fixed stare to a question a trained officer suspects something out of the ordinary. At this time Trooper [Gerald] Lincoln looked at your tongue and asked if you had been smoking marijuana and again he received a fixed stare and delayed response, so the question was asked 2 more times before an answer was provided. Again I offer the explanation as your inability to hear the officer or his inability to hear your response due to traffic, or your refusal to cooperate.
Your interpretation of Trooper [Timothy] McClinchy's attempt to calm the situation by providing an explicit explanation is incorrect. Trooper [Timothy] McClinchy admits telling you to "hang tight and relax" after explaining the troopers were investigating your sobriety and not harassing.
The final issue is that of your 15 minute wait for Trooper Timothy McClinchy and the State Patrol accept the fact the completion of the summons and complaint and a computer check of a driver takes approximately 10 minutes, under normal conditions. Unfortunately, until technology become[s] more affordable for law enforcement nothing can be done to speed this process and we apologize for the extended delay.
In closing, it is unfortunate that people find the sensitive aspects of law enforcement investigations of possible criminal activity intrusive, when the actual purpose is solely to expose the facts.
It is my opinion that these officers were acting on behalf of the motoring public and within the guidelines set forth by the Colorado State Patrol at all times and your allegation of harassment based on ethnic or racial background is unfounded.
If I do not hear from you within 10 days of receipt of this letter, I will consider this matter closed.
Captain Bob Parish
Commander, Troop 3C
2412 East Mulberry
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Below are my numbered comments & rebuttals to the letter written to me by Captain Parish dated January 8, 1996:
In fact, after I had gone through all there tests the three
Gerald Lincoln, and
Timothy McClinchy -
got together about 10 feet away from me, and I
mention to the other officers,
"Well, what are we going to do with him." To me, this appears
that the idea of putting at least a careless driving
citation came after they had determined that I was not
under the influence of drugs. This also smacks to me that the
officers needed some reason to justify my stoppage, since there
really was no justification for stopping me in the first place,
and so they issued a careless driving citation because (a)
they needed to cover themselves somehow and/or (b) the officers
did not take kindly to my "I must respectfully state that this
is now turning into harassment" statements.
[Go back to letter.]
Officer Randy Rahne did not ask me whether I spoke English or not! He stated that I looked as if I've never lived in this country before. Making any statement implying ethnic origin is still entirely inappropriate. If the problem happens to relate to my ability to speak English, then he should have asked ne that, but he never asked me whether I was able to speak English; instead, he made the ridiculous remark of stating that I looked as if I've never lived in the country before.
To ask me whether I could speak English in my case is also ridiculous. I was born, raised, and educated in this country. I have a Masters of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering (with Highest Honors) from the University of Florida - universities in this country in which the need to speak, write, and comprehend English are not a luxury, but a necessity in order to attend classes, comprehend lectures and study material, and take exams. I have also written an article entitle "The Case for a Deregulated Free Market Telecommunications Industry" in the December 1994 issue of the prestigious technical magazine IEEE Communications Magazine. The fact that I was able to obtain degrees from those universities coupled with the other fact that I have published an article in a prestigious magazine should be sufficient proof that my ability to comprehend English should not be in question. Anyone who has just a simple five-minute conversation with me would be able to tell that I not only am able to speak, write, and comprehend English, but will also notice that I do not speak it with a foreign accent.
Of all the explanations offered as a defense and excuse for
the officers' actions in my case, these have got to the most
flimsy, ridiculous, and asinine comments. Not only that,
but the fact that a Colorado State Patrol Captain would offer
as a defense for an officer's actions the fact that he could
questions regarding your ethnic
origin" smacks to me like I have a strong case for an ethnic
discrimination lawsuit against the Colorado State Patrol and
the officer involved. Questions of ethnic origin are extremely
inappropriate and unprofessional to ask of an individual during
a police stoppage, and in my case the question of asking whether
I could speak English, which the officers never asked anyway,
would have still been inappropriate considering the fact that
I do not speak English with a foreign accent.
[Go back to letter.]
As far as looking at my tongue, this was done prior
to the marijuana question, not after it. They told me to open
my mouth; they looked inside my mouth with a flashlight and
told me to open it in various positions to determine if I had
any drugs in my mouth!!!
[Go back to letter.]
There are some other comments worth noting: