Crime Watch Captain: Call 911 for “Afro Teens”

Arlington volunteer apologizes for controversial e-mail

An Arlington crime watch captain is apologizing after he sent an e-mail suggesting his neighbors call 911 “any time you see Afro teens walking on our street.”

Some of his neighbors were so offended, they called police about the e-mail.

"I thought it was racist,” said neighbor Benita Valadez. "You can't call 911 for somebody walking on a public street. You can't do that."

Phillip Herr, a crime watch block captain on Del Mar Lane in North Arlington, wrote about a recent incident about “black kids fighting” and ended the e-mail: “Be alert. Call 911 any time you see Afro teens walking on our street.”

In an interview, Herr said he was referring specifically to a group of girls who had been causing trouble in the neighborhood.

“I can understand, they can misinterpret that,” he said. “Because it could sound like I’m pointing out all, the whole race.”

After some of Herr’s neighbors called police, and police contacted him, he sent out a second e-mail to say he was sorry.

“I owe you an official and sincere apology for referring to Afro teens that traverse on our street,” he wrote on Thursday. “I apologize for offending anyone.”

Valadez and several other neighbors said they hoped his apology was sincere and that he did not mean what he wrote.

"I've met him before,” she said. “He seems like a nice person. Maybe he just had an off day. I don't know.”

In the interview, Herr said, "I sincerely apologize and officially apologize for calling out Afro Americans in particular because I like the kids. Some of them are real nice kids, friendly, (and) nice to joke around with. They need parents, you know. I'm not prejudiced about anybody."

Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Ellis Richard said Herr is a private citizen and volunteer crime watch captain who does not speak for the department.

It is not appropriate to call 911 because someone of a certain race is walking down the street unless they are committing a crime or acting suspiciously, she said.

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