City Police to Interview Freedom Executive in Alleged Profiling at Mall (Article 5 originally published October 9, 2003)
By Tobias K. Houpe
Columbus Police investigators were expected to interview Freedom Media Group president Alan W. Sorter this week in connection with the alleged racial profiling of Sorter at Columbus City Center mall last month.
Internal Affairs Commander Kim Jacobs said the interview with Sorter – and later this month with mall and security officials – will help determine if two Columbus police officers acted properly when they escorted Sorter out of City Center mall on Sept. 7 after a confrontation with mall security.
The two officers also are expected to be interviewed within the next few weeks, Jacobs said.
The review into the alleged profiling was ordered earlier this month by Public Safety Director Mitchell Brown after a meeting between Sorter, Brown and Mayor Michael Coleman.
Jacobs said the review is expected to be complete next month. If the charges against the officers are substantiated, they could be suspended, reprimanded or given retraining counseling, she said.
Jacobs said the review will be full and fair and will not attempt to “cover things up.”
“I’m interested in what we can do about clarifying the situation,” said Jacobs. “My biggest concern is that the citizens understand that we are interested in doing thorough investigations, that we are not going to cover things up or hide things and we have to use whatever evidence we have to make a decision.”
In a front-page editorial in The Columbus Post on Sept. 11, Sorter characterized the incident as a racial profiling and called the experience “humiliating.”
Sorter said he was eating dinner at the mall when a security officer approached him, said he’d gotten a complaint about a “suspicious” and “loitering” man, and asked Sorter to leave. When Sorter denied he was loitering and refused to leave, the officer got on his radio and called for back-up, Sorter said.
Moments later, two Columbus police officers and a second security officer showed up and escorted him out of the mall, Sorter said.
In their meeting with Sorter earlier this month, Brown and Coleman promised to review the incident and reprimand the officers, if warranted. The two mall security officers involved in the incident resigned after being confronted, mall officials said.
The mall’s general manager, Peter Cooper, immediately apologized to Sorter and pledged that he would urge the mall’s security company, IPC International, to improve its diversity training.
Joseph Marcello, executive vice-president of national operations for IPC International, also apologized to Sorter, but said he did not believe Sorter had been profiled.
Another IPC executive, Donald Lance, said the security company does have an effective diversity training program in place “that we use as a part of our basic training.”
“The general mode of operation for IPC is to respond to client requests and to fulfill our contract within the law and within moral obligations at every center we do business in,” Lance said.