HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Four months ago, one mother spoke out against inappropriate action by a police officer with the University of Alabama in Huntsville who stopped her teenage son for a cracked tail light, and ended up saying things you would not hear in a routine stop.
After the teen's story was shared by thousands online, the university announced this week that steps have been taken for reform.
Back in October, we spoke with Chanda Crutcher, one mother who says her son was "traumatized" following a traffic stop by a UAH police officer. She and her husband watched the body cam footage of the stop. She says, she knew then that something was wrong. Now the university says they’re making changes to their police department.
When recounting the incident, Chanda Mills Crutcher, mother of Caleb Crutcher, tells our reporter, “... He was pulled over and bullied..”
At 11pm on October 3, then 17-year-old Caleb Crutcher was pulled over by a UAH campus police officer for an apparent cracked tail light. During the stop, the officer accused Crutcher of having drugs and asked if he had a "dead prostitute" in the car.
Crutcher tells WZDX, “I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that there was a cultural problem. It wasn’t a police officer problem, it was a cultural problem in that police precinct. But, I don’t think anyone would argue that we don’t have a culture problem in our country.”
The university has announced the former chief of police, former police captain, and the officer involved in the October 3rd traffic stop no longer work for UAH.
Crutcher says, “It is very good to see that the conversation is still happening. It is never our desire to see anyone lose their job. But, accountability is a good thing. Action is a good thing. So, to know that we are making a statement that we are trying to be better as a community and specifically on the campus of UAH, that is refreshing.”
The University released a UAHPD Action Plan Progress update on January 12th. In it, they say officer training will be expanded in 2021 and UAH students, faculty and staff will serve on the a newly-created Police Advisory Council.
Chanda Crutcher tells our reporter Caleb is doing better in the months following the incident. But, she says, the hurt still lingers within their family.
Crutcher says, “Does it make is feel safer to know that someone who obviously has executive judgement issues, who has our address, who knows where Caleb works has been terminated? Definitely not. I think there is so much room for conversation and understanding of perspective. But, does t make me feel good as a mom to know that standards of human decency are non-partisan and universal? Definitely, it helps me to teach my children the important lessons. But, we have a long way to go.”
University representatives told me they’re not able to interview at this time.