Retired MLB Player Racially Profiled in His Hartford Driveway

Apr 14, 2014

Doug Glanville played Major League Baseball for 11 seasons, most with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Credit Garrett Craig / Creative Commons

Doug Glanville is a lot more than a former Major League Baseball player. He graduated from an Ivy League school with a degree in engineering. He contributes to the New York Times and is a regular ESPN commentator.

In a recent piece for The Atlantic, Glanville wrote about how none of those accomplishments mattered when he was racially profiled by a West Hartford police officer in his own driveway...in Hartford. 

During one of the big snowstorms we recently had, Glanville was outside trying to get his car unburied so he could get his kids to school. From the article:

A police officer from West Hartford had pulled up across the street, exited his vehicle, and begun walking in my direction. I noted the strangeness of his being in Hartford—an entirely separate town with its own police force—so I thought he needed help. He approached me with purpose, and then, without any introduction or explanation he asked, “So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?”

After Glanville told the West Hartford police officer that he lived at the house, the officer didn't apologize, and instead told him to enjoy shoveling.

Glanville's wife emailed a state senator who lives nearby. She wrote in the email, "There were several other people on our street out in front of their houses shoveling snow at the same time. None of them were stopped for questioning."

This situation was tough for Glanville to explain to his kids. As he put it:

As offended as I’d been, the worst part was trying to explain the incident to my kids. When I called my wife to tell her what had happened, she was on her way home from the Black History Month event, and my son heard her end of the conversation. Right away, he wanted to know whether I’d been arrested. My 4-year-old daughter couldn’t understand why a police officer would “hurt Daddy’s feelings.” I didn’t want to make my children fear the police. I also wasn’t ready to talk to them about stop-and-frisk policies, or the value judgments people put on race.

How did West Hartford officials explain what happened? From Glanville's story:

I soon learned that West Hartford had an ordinance that prohibits door-to-door solicitation. A man, whom I allegedly resembled, had broken this ordinance. Someone in West Hartford had called the police, and a young officer believing he was doing his duty, had pursued the complaint to my street. Our block would have been the first stop for the wayward shoveler if he had entered Hartford.

Glanville learned about the division between Hartford and West Hartford the hard way. He wrote: 

In reaching out for understanding, I learned that there is a monumental wall separating these towns. It is built with the bricks of policy, barbed by racially charged anecdotes, and cemented by a fierce suburban protectionism that works to safeguard a certain way of life. The mayor of West Hartford assured me that he championed efforts to diversify his town, and the chief of police told me he is active in Connecticut’s statewide Racial and Ethnic Disparity Commission in the Criminal Justice System.

Despite the experience, Glanville's five-year-old son still wants to be a police officer when he grows up. Maybe the kids will be alright.