Trooper in controversial stop cleared; policy still in question - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Trooper in controversial stop cleared; policy still in question

Montpelier, Vermont - October 13, 2011

An advisory panel says a Vermont State trooper did not violate policy during a traffic stop in which two illegal immigrants were taken into custody. But the policy itself is still in question.

During the traffic stop, Trooper Jared Hatch asked the two Mexican passengers for identification and eventually turned the men over to federal agents.

Critics said that was racial profiling and a violation of state policy that encourages law enforcement not to inquire about the immigration status of otherwise law abiding individuals.

But a review by the State Police Advisory Commission concluded that Trooper Hatch did nothing wrong. The report says he had probable cause to stop the vehicle for speeding and did not use race in that decision. His questioning of the immigrants was justified because they seemed excessively nervous, gave inconsistent answers and failed to make eye contact. And because the two men were neither crime victims nor witnesses, state police policy did not prohibit the trooper from questioning their immigration status.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, issued a statement saying he was pleased the trooper did not violate police policies, but his legal counsel is continuing to review whether those policies are sound.

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