Former Phillies outfielder Doug Glanville gave a lecture titled “What Can You Do? Responding to Injustice in Ways that Work” on Thursday, February 16, 2017, in the Commonwealth Room in the DeSales University Center. The event was a program of the Salesian Center for Faith and Culture at DeSales.
Glanville began his presentation by describing his hometown of Hartford, Conn., and how it is essentially divided into the urban Hartford and the suburban West Hartford. His own home is in the urban Hartford section, positioned near Prospect Avenue, the line which divides the two counties.
On a snowy day in February 2014, Glanville was out shoveling his driveway when a police cruiser from West Hartford came to a stop across the street from his house and idled for a few minutes before approaching Glanville’s driveway. The police officer, 27-years-old at the time, asked Glanville, “So are you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling driveways around here?”
In his editorial for The Atlantic, Glanville said that in that moment he resisted the urge to tell the officer that he graduated from an Ivy League school, played for the Phillies for 15 years, was a column writer for the New York Times, and was an analyst for ESPN. Instead, Glanville told the officer that the house belonged to him. Minutes later, without an apology, the officer returned to his vehicle and drove away.
After his wife sent an email explaining the incident to a state senator in the same neighborhood, the internal affairs department investigated the incident and interviewed Glanville about what happened.
Even though Glanville recognized the need for discretion from a legal standpoint, he also wanted to bring to the wider world an awareness of racial profiling and how minorities can become victims of injustice despite their educational or socioeconomic background. He wanted to make the story known without creating unintended consequences for West Hartford law enforcement, especially for the young officer involved and his future career that could be impeded by it.
“I was a former major league player who worked for ESPN currently who just got stopped in his own driveway. It was newsworthy, and I was concerned about that officer who was 27-years-old and made a mistake or made some assumptions, and I didn’t think he should have to wear this burden for every possible wrong in the situation, but I also knew it was important to get the dialogue going, to really talk about this,” Glanville said. “In the end, whether you attribute race or not, and I certainly 100 percent believe it’s a factor… it was much more important to recognize that there is a lot of conversation that’s needed.”
In April, two months after the incident took place, Glanville published his editorial. Before it was published, however, Glanville sent a draft of the article to the West Hartford Police Department in order to make sure he got all of the facts of the incident correct, and to make them aware that media presence would become involved.
The state senator passed this article on to members of the Connecticut legislature, and after discussion, the state representative ended up drafting a bill to clarify the legal jurisdiction of law enforcement in their own sovereign counties.
“Many people cannot reach out or have the opportunity to change the circumstances or just create this kind of action because they don’t have [these resources],” said Glanville, referring to members of his community including the state senator, the state representative, and other figures in lawmaking. “I knew that I did, and I felt that I had a great responsibility… I felt that a lot of other people could gain from this, whether it was just telling the story or understanding the tension between certain communities… You could also solve the problem collectively as a community.”
The bill, passed in 2015, stated that law enforcement can only cross county lines in hot pursuit of a crime that the officer witnessed, not to enforce a municipal ordinance specific to that county’s laws.
Glanville said that this process was only one course of action that could have taken place from the incident in February.
“I throw it out to you to think about ways within your community, what you can do, to be involved in things you care about,” Glanville told the audience. “It doesn’t have to be… something that’s popular, but something that you are really passionate about. You could help so many people other than you if you put your ego aside.”
Today, Glanville is a part of Connecticut’s Police Officer Standards and Training Council, which creates the training curriculum for the state.
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