One night back in 2000 I was driving home from my job at NBC17 in Raleigh, N.C. It was around 11:45am. As I was driving down Glenwood Avenue, I noticed some police activity. Of course, the journalist in me had to know what was going on. It may have been "breaking news" and certainly I wanted to be the first to report it.
As I drove up on the scene, I saw a police officer directing and re-routing traffic. I pulled over to him and asked what was going on. He told me to keep going and that it was none of my concern. I then identified myself as a journalist with NBC17----at which time he told me he didn't care who I was and I had better move along "right now!" He then put his hand on his weapon. I told him I was going to report him. He replied, "Just get the hell on!" I then drove up to the next officer and asked (very nicely) if he could give me the officer's name. Since they weren't near each other, he had no idea of what had just transpired. He was very polite and gave me the officer's name. I might also add this particular officer was black. The other officer was white.
True to my word, I contacted the Raleigh Police Internal Affairs Unit on Monday and reported the incident. I explained I was on my way home and thought I had come up on some breaking news. Certainly the officer could've handled the situation differently and there was absolutely no need for him to go for his gun. I was just an innocent, non-threatening black female journalist in a car trying to get home.
A police investigator came to my job and took a statement. They probably did it to verify that I was who I said I was and they certainly didn't want to give the impression that they were going to dismiss my complaint.
A few months later, I received a letter in the mail indicating the officer had been reprimanded for his behavior.
I wonder now if I had been a white woman would the officer have been as rude as he was. But I choose to believe the cops don't like journalists either and on that particular dark night the word "journalist" was written all over my black face.