Green Commissioner Questions Police

Cara Jennings, a Green Party member and Lake Worth City Commissioner, caused a bit of a stir when the police stopped someone outside of her home recently.

From the Palm Beach Post...

After three police officers had stopped in front of her home, City Commissioner Cara Jennings said all she wanted to do is see what had happened.

But the officers, who had stopped a man for running a stop sign on his bicycle, were unfamiliar with the commissioner and became concerned as Jennings approached an officer for more information.

According to a Lake Worth police observation report, on Aug. 20, Jennings tried to speak with officers Callie Culpepper and Martin Kimberly while they were questioning Edward Pac III, a friend of Jennings who had been stopped.

When Jennings asked why three officers had responded to the area, Culpepper asked Jennings to stand across the street on the sidewalk until she was done questioning Pac. Jennings then told police officers she was a commissioner.

“I’m the commissioner, he is my friend…. I have the right to know what’s going on,” Jennings said, according to the report.

Jennings continued walking toward Culpepper, who asked her repeatedly to stay back. According to Kimberly’s report, Jennings had interfered enough that she could have been placed under arrest for resisting arrest because “she was jeopardizing officer safety for myself and officer Culpepper.”

But Jennings said Thursday that she wasn’t aware that the officers felt her actions were threatening and was surprised to see a possible resisting arrest charge in the report.

“I think it’s appropriate to observe the police in action as long as they do so in a way that is a non-threatening, and that was the intention of what I was doing,” she said.

Jennings said she frequently identifies herself as a commissioner and thought the officers would know who she was because they were in front of her home.

“I identified myself as a commissioner, in part, so the officer would hopefully not be threatened by me as I was inquiring to what was going on,” she said.

Jennings said she was not trying to assert any authority over the officers or help her friend by identifying herself as a commissioner.

After the officers gave Pac a verbal warning, Jennings told Culpepper that the incident was “an inappropriate use of police resources” and she would be contacting Police Chief Bill Smith.

As of Thursday, Jennings said she has not spoken to Smith, but still plans to contact him about the incident.

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