Pubdate: Mon, 1 Mar 1999
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Mercury Center
Author: ROBERT D. MCFADDEN, New York Times


N.J. superintendent linked drugs, crime to minority

New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman ousted the superintendent of the state
police Sunday after a published report quoted him saying it was naive to
think race was not an issue in drug crimes and that cocaine and marijuana
traffickers were most likely to be members of minority groups.

Her decision came the same day the Star-Ledger of Newark published a lengthy
report quoting the police superintendent, Col. Carl Williams, in a
wide-ranging interview as linking minority groups with drug trafficking and
making other comments that seemed to fuel a racial controversy around the
New Jersey State Police.

``Two weeks ago, the president of the United States went to Mexico to talk
to the president of Mexico about drugs,'' Williams was quoted as saying.
``He didn't go to Ireland. He didn't go to England. Today, with this drug
problem, the drug problem is cocaine or marijuana. It is most likely a
minority group that's involved with that.''

In a late afternoon statement in Trenton, the governor said: ``I have valued
Col. Williams' service, and his career record is an honorable one. However,
his comments today are inconsistent with our efforts to enhance public
confidence in the state police. I have therefore asked for his immediate

Black state legislators, religious leaders, civil-rights advocates and
others who had sought Williams' removal called the resignation a step in the
right direction, but said much would depend on the selection of a successor
and on establishing what they called new directions within the 2,700-member
state police force. Whitman named Lt. Col. Michael Fedorko, the
second-in-command, as acting superintendent.

Williams, 58, who rose through the ranks in a 35-year state police career,
did not comment publicly on his dismissal. He had been under fire for weeks
over charges that state troopers had unfairly targeted black drivers on
state highways, a practice known as racial profiling, and that he had
refused to acknowledge a long history of racist procedures by his force.

Despite the criticism and calls for Williams' resignation, Whitman, who had
appointed him superintendent in 1994, defended him publicly, and political
observers in Trenton said she had been prepared to stand by him, despite
misgivings by members of her administration about what some saw as his
tendency toward insensitive outspokenness.

She abruptly reversed course Sunday after the Star-Ledger's report.
Williams, in a three-hour interview that took place late last week, was
quoted as saying racial profiling would not be condoned and that troopers
must stop motorists only ``on the basis of a traffic violation.'' He added:
``As far as racial profiling is concerned, that is absolutely not right. It
never has been condoned in the state police, and it never will be.''

But he also said certain crimes were associated with certain racial and
ethnic groups. ``If you are looking at the methamphetamine market, that
seems to be controlled by the motorcycle gangs, which are basically white,''
he said. ``If you are looking at heroin and stuff like that, your
involvement there is more or less Jamaican.''

The newspaper also paraphrased Williams as saying it would be naive to think
race was not an issue in drug trafficking, and that drug violations were not
the only crimes associated with ethnic groups.

Although contending that he had never known a state police officer who used
profiles based on skin color or nationality, Williams was quoted as saying
that he had taken steps to counter such profiling.

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