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Durham city leaders receive report claiming police racial bias

Posted May 22

— A report claiming racial bias within the Durham Police Department, and ways to fix it, was presented to Durham city leaders on Thursday.

But not every member of the Durham Human Relations Commission, which authored the report, was in sync with its findings. Three members disagreed with the racial bias claim.

Charmery Morgan, the only committee member who voiced her opinion at the meeting, agreed with the report.

“I don’t like what’s happening at the Durham Police Department and I don’t like what’s happening in the City of Durham,” she said.

The review was requested by Durham Mayor Bill Bell in October after a series of highly publicized incidents, including the shooting of a 26-year-old man at a downtown Durham plaza.

In an Oct. 31 report to Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield, the police department said it doesn't deny that racial bias might exist among some officers, but it denies "the existence of any pattern, practice, culture or tolerance for bias-based policing."

City Councilman Steve Schewel believes the issue has affected the department’s image.

“Trust in the department has weakened, and we do need that trust to be fully restored,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting comes two days after Durham police released dash-cam video of a traffic stop to counter claims of racial profiling and excessive use of force during the incident.

The committee report listed 34 recommendations, including:
- Implementing diversity, mental health and crisis intervention training for new police recruits and enhancing training for current officers
- Changing police department policy that allows officers to disable cameras installed in patrol vehicles
- Requiring police officers to clearly communicate to citizens the purpose for their interactions

“Hopefully it’s not one of those many reports, proposals and plans that the city has collected that sit on a shelf collecting dust,” Durham resident Gwyn Silver said during the meeting.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said he will wait and see what recommendations city leaders want to implement before commenting on the report.

After Mayor Bell called for the report in October, Lopez said at the time that “there is as much racial bias in the police department as there is in any organization. If we discover it, we work to address it."

City council members asked Bonfield to present a timetable for a recommended course of action on June 16.

“At the end of the day, the buck stops with me and I will be personally responsible for shepherding this through the process,” he said.

12 Comments

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  • disgusted2010 May 23, 5:39 p.m.

    Of course the report found racial bias. That was a foregone conclusion. If there was no racial bias how could such a group as a human relations commission stay in business. I wonder how much it cost to prepare a report that everyone involved knew what it was going to say before it was ever written or the first interview was done, IF any were done.

  • jackaroe123 May 23, 3:53 p.m.

    Why is it every time someone has issues with the police in Durham they ultimately play the race... View More

    What I'd like to know is why everyone agrees racism does still exist if every time an example is alleged it's dismissed as playing "the race card." I think some other people are playing the "playing the race card" card.

  • 68_dodge_polara May 23, 3:40 p.m.

    I just wish that Durham would get tough on its crime and stop pretending that it isn't there or... View More

    — Posted by OpenM1nd

    The problem in Durham County is the judges that create a revolving door for violent repeat felons.

  • OpenM1nd May 23, 1:27 p.m.

    I just wish that Durham would get tough on its crime and stop pretending that it isn't there or that it will just go away on its own. Nitpicking over racial bias is only making things worse.

  • Itsmyopinion67 May 23, 1:21 p.m.

    Maybe they should read the news, ride with a cop or spend a few nights with a paramedic or in an... View More

    — Posted by lopo

    Well said!

  • commonsenseisn't May 23, 12:50 p.m.

    Everyone on the city council and every judge in Durham should be required with a beat cop at least once a month. They should ride in all areas of the city so that they can see the difference in the way different people act toward officers.

  • torchhappysean May 23, 12:02 p.m.

    Why is it every time someone has issues with the police in Durham they ultimately play the race card? The problem is not race but instead thepeople running around who think they are above, exempt, or otherwise not required to follow the laws! The gentleman in the video is a prime example of this. Instead of listening to the officer he started acting indignent and offensive to the officer when HE was in the wrong. This is the typical behavior that these LEO's have to put up with day in and day out, people who feel that by throwing a temper tantrum or otherwise acting aggressively towards the officer they will get away with breaking the law. If this particular gentleman had treated the officer with respect he probably would have gotten a warning and sent on his merry way but instead he escalated the situation... This is indicitive of the world nowadays.. Too much common and not enough courtesy...

  • iron fist May 23, 10:25 a.m.

    "Requiring police officers to clearly communicate to citizens the purpose for their interactions"
    Its hard to communicate with people who lack the ability to or refuse to communicate by listening to the officers.

  • 68_dodge_polara May 23, 10:06 a.m.

    I'd really like to see the report and the what it sights as evidence of racial bias.

  • ncprr1 May 23, 10:04 a.m.

    Maybe they should read the news, ride with a cop or spend a few nights with a paramedic or in an... View More

    — Posted by lopo

    Yes, you are right. When are people going to face reality and turn this around? The Durham city leaders should be hauling in the Human Relations Commission and all of these other activist groups and asking them what they are doing to help this situation? The people that they represent are out of control and responsible for the vast majority of the crime and the degradation of society in general. Why aren't they answering for that? Why aren't they helping these people, instead of looking to have their behavior excused?

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