When retired Greenville, North Carolina Police Chief Hassan Aden, 52, returned home to Alexandria, Virginia, after spending four days in Paris, France, to be with his mother as she celebrated her 80th birthday, he did not expect to be detained for over 90 minutes at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City. Aden was just wanting to get back to his wife and kids, two boys, and his law enforcement consulting business, but he faced an unavoidable delay because he was told his name was the same as someone else’s name on a watch list.
NBC News reported that, following his detention upon landing at JFK on Monday, March 13, former Greenville, North Carolina Police Chief Hassan Aden took to Facebook on Saturday, March 19, to write about his experience. Before becoming a police chief in North Carolina, Aden had worked in Alexandria for 26 years as a law enforcement officer.
According to the Washington Post, in 2012, Aden left the Alexandria Police Department to take a position as Greenville North Carolina’s chief of police. He later retired in 2015.
Aden said he did not have any problem with being stopped at JFK and being subjected to additional checks. He stated that the authorities should follow what he called “proper rules” when somebody is detained, but did not appear to believe that happened in his case.
When Aden arrived at JFK, he was asked by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer if he was “traveling alone.” He replied that he was and Aden said that he recalled the officer then said, “Let’s take a walk.”
Aden said he asked one of the agents how long did it take being detained to be considered reasonable. Raw Story reported that the officer told Aden that he “wasn’t being detained,” but that he could not “leave or contact his family.”
Aden said he knew it does not take 90 minutes to check someone out and verify their identity, especially using a passport. Aden did not describe the detention he underwent “as illegal.” However, he said the length of time he was detained was unreasonable.
Aden, grew up in Italy and France. He moved to America 42 years ago and became a citizen. He said he did not know why Customs and Border Patrol agents took so much time “to process him.”
The Customs and Border Patrol agency, citing privacy rules, did not comment on Aden’s detention. A spokesperson for the agency said all travelers are subject to inspection, during which time they may be inconvenienced. However, they have to ensure those entering the country properly.
Aden wrote on Facebook that he was held inside what appeared to be a repurposed storage area. He went on to say that he told agents that he was a U.S. citizen, and that he had worked in law enforcement as a lifelong police officer and was a retired police chief.
The agent told Aden that he did not have any control over the circumstances and that his occupation did not matter. Another officer said someone who was on a watch list had been using Aden’s name as an alias, and because of this, his information was being cross-checked with another agency.
As he waited, Aden wrote that he saw foreign nationals, who were detained but then quickly released. Aden called the detentions of the foreign nationals “reasonable and appropriate.”
After a female agent, who had just started her shift, began to request status updates rather aggressively on his behalf, only then did Aden’s release seem to speed up. She apologized to him.
Hassan Aden warned others that anyone can be profiled, regardless of the fact that they can prove they are also in law enforcement. He said that previous to this administration, he had attended meetings at the White House frequently, where he advised on national police policy reforms. Aden stated if he could be detained at an airport, “it can happen to anyone with attributes that can be profiled. He added that “No one is safe from this type of unlawful government intrusion.”
When retired Greenville, North Carolina Police Chief Hassan Aden was detained for 90 minutes at JFK last Monday, he was outraged, though he did not take to his Facebook account to write about his experience until Saturday, March 18. Aden had “a message for the administration.” He said the way U.S. citizens and guests to the United States are treated matters.
By John Samuels
Photo Courtesy Facebook