HUNTSVILLE Ala. – Last October, 17 year- old Caleb Crutcher was pulled over by UAHPD on University Drive. During the routine traffic stop, the teen said he was verbally taunted by the police officers. After his mother, Chanda Crutcher viewed the body cam footage she was horrified and demanded that UAH held those officers accountable. That seems to have now happened.
The university’s former police chief, former police captain and the officer involved in pulling over Caleb Crutcher are no longer employed by UAH.
President of the NAACP Chapter at UAH Joshua Thompson and Vice President Christian Williams knew that they as well, had to make a public statement. With the statement release and community standing behind the Crutcher family, action began quickly.
This launched a UAH Police Advisory Council. In that release to the campus, school officials stated, “UAH administrators met with numerous student groups, alumni groups, elected officials, and community members to listen, learn, and discuss a path forward,” which led to the decision of, “the former chief of police, the former police captain, and the officer involved in the October 3, 2020, traffic stop that sparked these discussions are no longer employed by UAH.”
UAH President Darren Dawson and UA Chancellor Finis St. John appointed Steven D. Anderson as interim police chief. Who has over 25 years of Senior level law enforcement experience. UAH is currently looking for a new chief of police.
Thompson knew that quick action was key, “Well, the quickness was really important because, it showed that the students actually cared about what happened, and it wasn’t just brushed under the rug,” Thomas added that after the statement was released UAH President Darren Dawson and Vice president of the diversity office reached out to them.
When they spoke, President Dawson and NAACP members, Thomas said, “They took the recommendations to heart, because a lot of the changes they made were in line with our recommendations and they also let us know about how they had already started working on some of those recommendations.”
The new advisory council will be made up of students, faculty and staff members, according to the release, “The Council seeks to share UAH’s community input on matters pertaining to police service and campus safety issues and to make recommendations to the chief of police on issues or concerns involving the UAHPD, the UAH community and our neighboring Huntsville community.”
“To be able to help this young man (Crutcher) who was probably too scared to come out, and be the voice of him on the campus, it made me feel really good that I’m actually putting my position, ahead of myself and putting other people ahead of myself and able to help other people around,” said Williams.
News 19 spoke with Chanda Crutcher about the university’s decision to fire the officers.
“Human Decency is not Partisan nor is it subjective,” said Crutcher. “My son experienced what so many of our sons have experienced. We applaud what is hopefully just the beginning of efforts made by UAH to address a culture that screamed repeatedly that it’s ok to Abuse Power and Bully those deemed to be less than. Caleb’s incident was one example of many that could have easily had a tragic ending. Terminating the employment of an officer that obviously has executive judgment issues at best, that has our address, and knows where my son is employed doesn’t make us feel safer. It does however provide hope that acceptable standards of practice are being elevated. This is a very sad and divisive season for our Nation. My prayer is that history will prove that we are collectively capable of making our world a better place. Before things can be functional I believe they have to be relational. We have to see each other. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share.”
Both Thomas and Williams have never met the Crutcher family, but they want them and whoever else to know they are there to be the voices for others.
“We are students of UAH and I know the police are trying to protect us, but then again you know, they have to find ways to actually protect us where we feel comfortable too,” Williams said.
“And just know that if anything else happens, with anybody in the area that we are here to help them anyway we can, and I’m glad that the University is taking steps and listening to other students and listening to us, so this will not happen in the future, and like I said, we come together as one,” Williams said.