Potentially explosive racial allegations against police in Montgomery Township have died barely a month after a school board member suggested officers targeted her because of her race.
Elisha Gee, a North Penn School Board member, said at a Montgomery Township Board of Supervisors meeting in April that officers with the township’s police department had stopped her one evening earlier in the month while driving in her neighborhood.
In her statement before the supervisors, she suggested she was unduly targeted for police attention and was at risk of being abused by the police. She claimed at one point that “suspicion is the reason that Black residents are 12 times more likely to experience police misconduct or abuse of their power than their neighbors.”
In her remarks, Gee referenced George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Blacks who activists claim were victims of police brutality.
She implied she was worried for her safety during the incident, describing herself as “concerned and startled” at the interaction. “I was basically bad until I proved that I wasn’t bad,” Gee said.
Claims of police misconduct against Blacks can and often turn local communities into powder kegs of discontent and even violence. Yet in over a month since Gee’s account of the incident, her claims appear to have died a quiet death—a sign that, whatever Gee’s grievances may have been, they were not enough to generate a wider community response.
Part of that could be because Montgomery Township police responded swiftly to the allegations, providing local outlet North Penn Now with police documentation and unedited bodycam footage of the exchange.
A review of the 911 call that led to the traffic stop showed a man had phoned police after he observed a white SUV repeatedly traversing the neighborhood several times over a short period.
Meanwhile, body cam footage of the stop showed the officer speaking briefly to Gee in her vehicle, explaining to her that he was responding to the 911 call to ensure that she wasn’t “out here committing a crime.”
“I live in this neighborhood,” Gee says at one point, visibly annoyed. “I’ve lived here for 20 years. And yes, I’m just driving around.” When the officer asks for her phone number to include in his incident report, Gee responds incredulously: “You’re writing a report for me driving around?”
The officer quickly ends the stop, telling Gee: “Have a good night.”
Gee did not respond to requests for comment on the incident, including whether or not she is taking any action against the police department.
North Penn School District Superintendent Todd Bauer told DVJournal he had “not discussed this matter with the Montgomery Township Police Department” but that the incident “has had zero impact on administration’s interaction with our police departments.”
“Our relationship with them has been and remains exceptional,” Bauer said.
The Montgomery Township Police Department did not respond to queries seeking comment on the matter. Police Chief Scott Bendig earlier told North Penn Now that he had viewed the footage of the incident. Gee’s insinuations, he said, were “not representative of the actions, professionalism, and dedication to service provided by the men and women of the Montgomery Township Police Department.”
Like much of the rest of the country, the Delaware Valley region has sometimes seen tension between citizens and police officers. Earlier this year, commissioners in Montgomery County’s Springfield Township banned the display of the “Thin Blue Line” American flag on public property, though police and the township ultimately agreed on an injunction to that ban. Critics had claimed the “Thin Blue Line” flag was a symbol of white supremacy.
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Montgomery/Philadelphia) has also generated controversy for marching with anti-law-enforcement “Defund the Police” activists during the tumultuous summer of 2020.
Gee is a member of North Penn Neighbors for Progress, a group of progressive Democratic candidates running for reelection to the school board. Among its policy goals, the group touts “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives and green energy programs in the district.
In her statement before the supervisors, Gee suggested she only made it out of the traffic stop unharmed due to her having meekly submitted to the exchange.
“The fact is, I complied,” she said. “And that’s why nothing went any further.”