Former NC police chief detained at JFK: 'This country feels cold, unwelcoming…'

He retired from the 250-person force in 2015.

Hassan Aden, a US citizen for 42 years, was returning from a weekend in Paris for his mother's 80 birthday when he was held by the US Customs and Border Protection officials for 90 minutes.

"As I continued to sit in the CBP makeshift Detention Center, watching numerous foreign nationals enter my country while I couldn't, I began thinking about my numerous trips overseas - including five in the past year (all prior to inauguration) - with no problems upon my return and complete with the warm greeting of 'Welcome home, '" the post read.

Aden said the officer who stopped him asked if he was traveling alone and then proceeded to escort him to a back room.

Aden, who became a naturalized USA citizen at the age of 10 when he was an Italian citizen, described his experience in a Facebook post.

He said he was escorted to a makeshift office, prohibited from using his cellphone and given little information about the reason for the holdup. He worked for the police department in Alexandria, Va., for about 25 years, then as Greenville police chief before becoming director of research and programs for the International Association of Chiefs of Police until February 2016.

Eventually, another CBP officer came on duty and became concerned with Aden's detention.

Despite Adan's long-running career in law enforcement, customs agents told him he must be vetted because his name "was used as an alias by someone on some watch list". He said he supports the officers of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, but he felt that his 90-minute detention was unreasonable and may have violated the Fourth Amendment.

"We strive to process arriving travelers as efficiently and securely as possible while ensuring compliance with laws and regulations governing the worldwide arrival process", wrote the Post quoting the spokesperson. His parents are Italian and Somali.

The incident occurred as the administration of President Donald Trump attempts to impose a travel ban on visitors from several Muslim countries.

"It just feels like ever since the talk of the travel ban it's like now there's actually - there's some tangible experience. of that talk", he said. It was later blocked by a judge in Washington state, a ruling that was upheld by an appeals court. He now runs a consulting firm that counts the US Justice Department as one of its clients. "I certainly was not free to leave", he said. "And I fully appreciate the difficulty of their job and the dangers of their job". Aden characterized this experience as non-voluntary "detention" and believed it was unreasonable and intrusive. What I read was, he wasn't questioning them stopping him and asking him questions. Aden was released after an hour and a half and, thanks to his Transportation and Security Administration Pre-Check status, was able to get back through security quickly and made his next flight.

Aden said he is a frequent traveler and when his wife anxious that something like this might happen in advance of his trip, he shrugged it off, thinking "no way". What I question here is essentially their policies and what they view as a reasonable detention. I can not be sure it won't happen again, and that it won't happen to my family, my children, the next time we travel overseas.

  • Leroy Wright