With Crackdown Mandate, Cops Randomly Hassling People of Collar
New York, N.Y. (SatireWire.com) — Statistically speaking, David Bates had all the earmarks of a potential criminal: he was well-groomed, between the ages of 35 and 55, drove a luxury car, wore a suit, smiled at odd times, and said very little of substance. He was, in short, a likely corporate executive, and to police, that was reason enough.
Corporacial profiling has been particularly difficult for executives such as AOL Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, who has two strikes against him.
Driving down a street in Greenwich Village, Bates was pulled over by officers who asked to see his license and business card. For the next harrowing half hour, police searched Bates’ PDA, scanned his laptop, and listened to the messages on his cell phone. When he asked, Bates was told he was stopped because he fit the description of a chief financial officer wanted for overstating capital expenditures. But both parties knew that was a lie.
Instead, Bates, a senior vice president of finance at Salomon Smith Barney, was yet another victim of what critics call a frightening trend in law enforcement: corporacial profiling.
Focusing on those “statistically proven to most likely to put the public at risk,” police officers across the country have begun randomly stopping and questioning Executive Americans, searching for evidence of insider trading, phony bank account numbers, or incriminating memos to clients. Often unable to find anything, they usually release their “suspects,” but not before “accidentally” scattering the contents of their briefcases to the winds.
It’s a tactic proponents defend as necessary given Washington’s mandate to clamp down on corporate crime, but one civil libertarians condemn.
“Today, I am sorry to say that the color of your collar makes you a suspect in America. It makes you more likely to be stopped, more likely to be searched, and more likely to be arrested,” said Harvey Bryers, president of the National Association for the Advancement of White-Collared People.
In fact, the practice of detaining people solely for their appearance has quickly become so common that the Executive American community has given their alleged crime a name: DWI: Driving While Incorporated.
Officers, however, maintain that in areas where white-collar males commit a disproportionate number of the crimes, police are justified in scrutinizing that sector of the population more closely.
“I see a guy in a suit, with a briefcase, walking into Merrill Lynch or Bristol-Myers, and yeah, of course I’m going to look twice at him,” said New York City police officer William Rist. “White-collar executives, particularly high level males, commit a dramatically disproportionate share of financial crimes in the United States. This is a sociological fact, not a figment of the imagination.”
And while critics charge corporacial profiling propagates stereotypes, even some Executive Americans privately admit the stereotypes have some foundation.
“If I’m walking down the street alone late at night and two minority kids come up behind me, yeah, maybe I’m thinking they’re gonna take my wallet,” said General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner, Jr. “But if two corporate controllers are coming up behind me, I’m not worried about my wallet. I’m worried about my entire life savings. I am definitely stepping to the other side of the street.”
But as David Bates learned, Greenwich Village, like many parts of this country, does not want him on either side of the street.
“I got stopped in this real bohemian area of the Village, everything from college kids to immigrants lived there,” Bates recalled. “Finally, after scaring me half to death, the cops let me go, but first they asked, ‘Do you know where you are?’ They didn’t say it, but I knew what they meant: ‘Look around you pal. White-collared people aren’t welcome here.’”
And this growing trend, combined with other forms of police stereotyping, has hit some executives even harder. Said AOL chief executive Richard Parsons: “I’m an Executive American and an African American. Now I can’t go to the bathroom without somebody hassling me.”
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