The Law Has A Run-in With Ol' Clark
By: Sheriff Dwayne Carey

This is my response disputing the version of events written by Bill Clark in his Friday, June 30th, column in the Tribune, which involved Boone County deputies on a traffic stop in the Lake of the Woods area.

First, let me tell you I contacted Bill Clark before writing this. I contacted him out of respect; something he did not show me or our department before writing his column. We agreed to disagree on the facts of the incident and he told me he stands by what he wrote. He then asked me to speak at Muleskinners on the last Friday of August, which I agreed to do. Crazy stuff, right?

I also contacted the Managing Editor, Charles Westmoreland, at the Tribune to express my displeasure and advised him I would be writing a response to Bill Clark's column, "Ol’ Clark has run-in with the law", along with releasing the video of the traffic stop. Mr. Westmoreland was very responsive to my concerns and asked that I email him my response to the column.

Here's the Sheriff's story!

Before I could arrive at work on Friday morning, I had already received a phone call at 7:30 am asking me if I had seen Bill Clark's column. I had not, so of course when I arrived the first thing I did was grab the Tribune and began reading. I wanted to see what Ol' Clark had to say!

When reading the column, I immediately began questioning Ol' Clark's claims. You see we have a simple motto at the Boone County Sheriff's Office of "treat people like you would like your mother to be treated". I know it seems simplistic, but you can never go wrong in any situation by living this motto; law enforcement or not. In the twelve and half years of being the Sheriff, I can count the number of formal complaints we have received on deputies on both hands and I don't know that I would even need the second hand! So, something just didn't add up.

With that said, my next step was to look at the in-car video, because we should all know by now that "the video" never lies. Of course, almost all of the videos pertaining to officer misconduct are of the short tidbit variety that never shows the entire incident; only the part that shines a negative light on the law enforcement officer. Well, you are in for a treat, because I have provided the entire unedited version with audio! Please take the time to watch the entire video, but I have to warn you it is pretty mundane in the middle. Be patient though, so you can see the interaction between Ol' Clark and the deputy at the end.

I spent most of my Friday afternoon in my office with the door closed watching the video and taking notes; I would peruse Ol' Clark's column and then compare it to the video. But, before I give you the facts and a brief play by play of the traffic stop, let me provide you with some context.

The female deputy has been with our department for about three years. Not only does she serve citizenry locally, but she also serves our country as a member of the military. She recently returned from a 10 month deployment overseas. The male deputy is a field training deputy. We always have our deputies returning from military duty ride with a training deputy for a few weeks after they return. It is a good practice, as it allows the returning deputy to get back into the swing of civilian law enforcement and feel comfortable doing things, such as making traffic stops. Our department receives a lot of traffic complaints from residents on Grace Lane (one resident in particular) and we are often criticized for not working traffic enough on that road (i.e., a good place to go work traffic for a deputy needing to make traffic stops). Now to the play by play!

Ol' Clark turns right on to St. Charles Road off of Grace Lane. He doesn't use his turn signal, which is the probable cause for the traffic stop. The female deputy, who is driving, activates her emergency lights to get Ol' Clark to stop. Ol' Clark gets to the intersection and clearly steers his vehicle to the right, as if he is stopping for the deputy. You can hear the deputy put the patrol vehicle in park, you hear the deputies release their seat belts and the female deputy notifies Joint Communications of the stop location and provides the license plate. Pay attention to the intersection light, as it is red at the time. You will also see a four door Ford truck pull up next to Ol' Clark's Toyota, occupying part of the driving lane. Thus, his vehicle is not blocking traffic.

As the deputies begin to exit their vehicle to approach, the intersection light turns green and there goes Ol' Clark cutting in front of the Ford truck. In the law enforcement world that is an indication that the driver is going to flee. This is the reason for the audible siren. Ol' Clark does pull over and initial contact is made. In his column he indicates, "I'm lucky I didn't get shot". There is never a weapon drawn, the deputies don't take a position of cover, there are no loud verbal commands, no panic or anything else for that matter by the deputies. Would you agree this is sensationalism at its best? I say yes!

Our deputy identifies herself and provides the reason for the stop. Ol' Clark was addressed as sir a number of times and thank you was expressed at least twice, as the deputy asked for and waited for Ol' Clark's driver's license and insurance card. I kept waiting for the "official arrogance" that Ol' Clark wrote about, but I only observed a professional young deputy do exactly what I expect her to do; her job in a manner consistent to our motto. The field training deputy is on the passenger side of Ol' Clark's vehicle listening to the interaction, which is common for a two person unit and especially for a deputy in training.

Our deputies leave Ol' Clark in his vehicle and return to the patrol vehicle to run the license check on the Mobile Data Terminal (in car computer) and subsequently write a summons. The important thing to note during the "mundane" time I told you about is the deputies are not engaged in conversation about the liberal bumper stickers, the type or age of the vehicle, or the fact that Ol' Clark was a little crusty on initial contact. If you listen, the only thing you will hear is the patrol car's law enforcement radio.

The female deputy recontacts Ol' Clark, while the training deputy stays back in between the vehicles on the passenger side. You can tell Ol' Clark is becoming increasingly unhappy, as the deputy attempts to explain the summons she is issuing. Again, you will hear Ol' Clark addressed as sir and the deputy stays professional as Ol' Clark begins to escalate. Pay attention to the training deputy as he hears Ol' Clark raising his voice and becoming more argumentative. You see Ol' Clark being demonstrative with his gestures and he clearly indicates he doesn't want to hear anything further by asking for the ticket two different times. He does sign it, but obviously didn't like the fact he received the summons (i.e., the reason for the column).

The deputy also wanted to educate Ol'Clark on not moving his vehicle, but he wasn't in the mood for listening to the lesson. It is actually a good lesson for everyone, so I thought I would expound on the do's and dont's. If law enforcement wants you to move your vehicle, they will tell you with loud verbal commands or over the patrol vehicle's public address system. If they don't tell you to move, then stay right where you are. If you pull off like Ol' Clark did, they are going to think you are attempting to flee and that will always raise heart rates!

The deputy finishes her contact by telling Ol' Clark to drive safely and she then thanks him. The nerve of law enforcement these days! Both deputies walk back to the patrol vehicle and again no inappropriate conversation, no derogatory comments about Ol' Clark, no laughing or joking, just professional conduct. The video and audio runs for a short period before the emergency equipment is deactivated, which then shuts the camera system off. As far as Ol' Clark's claim that the deputy didn't use her turn signal when reentering traffic, I will take my deputy's word that she did.

Did you ever see a point where Ol' Clark's life was in danger (other than when he cut in front of the truck)? What about that good dose of arrogance he received from the deputy who addressed him as sir and thanked him numerous times? How was he in the shoes of minorities as an elderly white male? Was he saying minorities don't follow traffic laws or was he saying they are argumentative when stopped by law enforcement? I don't know, but Ol' Clark was guilty of both. If he believes this is how minorities are treated, then minorities can be assured from this video that they will be treated professionally by Boone County deputies.

In his column Ol' Clark sings the same tune we hear so often, in that these "trivial" traffic violations should not be a reason for law enforcement to stop a vehicle or write a summons. Here is a quick Political Science refresher: law enforcement is in the Executive Branch of government, which means they enforce the laws. The Legislative Branch is responsible for creating and writing the laws. If people have a problem with what is deemed "trivial" traffic laws, then our friends down at the Capitol are the ones they need to be complaining to or about. The job of a law enforcement officer is to enforce laws, no matter if they are deemed serious or trivial and I can assure you the deputies at the Boone County Sheriff's Office are going to enforce them all.

We have finally reached the bottom line of this diatribe of mine! I am not going to say Ol' Clark didn't tell the truth in his column, but I will stand firm on the fact that it didn't happen the way he said it did. Of course, you are going to form your own opinion once you watch the video and compare it to Ol' Clark's column like I did. In today's society we have an abundance of outlets for anyone to say anything, whether it is accurate or not. There is no controlling it and rarely does anyone challenge it, as it seems like a losing battle. I have been guilty of letting things slide myself. Social media reigns supreme for these inaccuracies, closely followed by television media. Apparently you can also find it in some columns in the Tribune! What happened to integrity, as I am afraid it is becoming a thing of the past? Unfortunately, there is a small vocal minority that dictates how our society operates, because they want to be and are willing to be heard. The larger silent majority group goes about their busy lives and never speaks up or stands up for what is or should be right, because it doesn't affect them. Don't you think at some point a line needs to be drawn and we have to say, "We are simply not going to let people say whatever they want and not hold them accountable"? As you can tell by now, I reached that point today.