Local News

Durham city manager to review suggestions limiting police racial bias

Posted June 16, 2014

— City Manager Tom Bonfield will oversee the review and implementation of recommendations to city officials in response to claims of racial bias within the Durham Police Department, a process he believes can be completed within 60 days, Bonfield told city council members Monday night.

The two month deadline is a follow up to a May 22 meeting where council members received a report from the Durham Human Relations Commission claiming racial bias within the police department. The review was requested by Durham Mayor Bill Bell in October after a series of highly publicized incidents.

The report came two days after the department released dash-cam video of an arrest to show that a Durham officer followed procedure when he took a bicyclist into custody.

“I, too, realize that as the city manager, to which the police chief and the police department report, I am personally responsible and accountable for ensuring that this trust is upheld at the highest and most responsible level, and I am confident the dedicated men and women who serve this community in the Durham Police Department want the same thing,” Bonfield said in a statement.

Some residents who spoke during Monday’s city council meeting reaffirmed the report’s claim.

“The police pull up to my son as he is walking downtown,” said David Hall, who is black. “Not ‘can we have a conversation,’ it was ‘get in the car, get in the car.’ Those were the words spoken to him.”

After Bell called for the report, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said at the time “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."

Hilton Cancel with the National Latino Police Officer’s Association said there are rumors that Bonfield’s inquiry could lead to Lopez’s removal.

“I can only say I am concerned about these rumors and hope this body will give him a fair shake in terms of not getting rid of him,” he said.

Some of the commission’s 34 recommendations include:
- 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

Bonfield will review the commission's suggestions as well as 10 recommendations from the Durham Civilian Police Review Board regarding improving their role in police and community relations. Bonfield and his staff will also review police practices in other North Carolina cities and consider feedback from advocacy organizations and Durham police.

“It is reasonable to expect that some recommendations both within and beyond my authority will not receive my concurrence,” Bonfield said in the statement. “In all cases these too will be presented to the city council, with support materials, for consideration in conjunction with the final report and response to all 44 recommendations.”

A report with Bonfield’s suggestions will be presented to the city council in August.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • dirtydozen431 Jun 17, 2014

    Minorities are handled with kid gloves. Because there is no retort to the 'race card'.

  • Cheree Teasley Jun 17, 2014
    user avatar

    Everytime I have or my husband have been pulled over in NC they've always checked Hispanic for race. I[m bi-racial (non Hispanic) so I could see the mistake, but my husband is Black, no mistaking it. I heard that this is done to even out the stats

  • Billy Smith Jun 17, 2014
    user avatar

    So should NC Republicans enjoy a minority status being there are more Democrats and demand government money, government programs, special status, inclusiveness and their own National Association for the Advancement of Republican People.

  • James Scandrick Jun 17, 2014
    user avatar

    There's no need, that white person will go to the police station and complain directly. They don't feel threatened by the police, therefore there is a level of trust and confidence that their voice will be heard, so no screaming needed. Better yet, they'll just call somebody that no somebody, and get it thrown under the couch. Heck, the cop might even apologize.

  • same ole story Jun 17, 2014

    Every single white person being charged by a black officer or latino should scream racial bias from the roof tops!!!! WHATS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER!!!!!!! See how long that will last.

  • Billy the Kid Jun 17, 2014

    Anything for liberals to stay relevant.

  • RDcallsit Jun 17, 2014

    and also, we continue to further separate ourselves from our police officers. do you think this is going to suddenly inspire personality and behavior traits? I doubt you're going to be arrested any better!

  • The2ruthHurts Jun 17, 2014

    Just a little unknown fact for those outside looking in: If you get charged or arrested, you are STRONGLY encouraged to file a complaint on the officer. You just may get your charges dismissed once you can plant that seed of racial profiling by police. Pretty sad, huh? Does it work? Well, just think of this: Why all of a sudden there is a surge of alleged racial profiling complaints, whether true or not? F.A.D.E. and the Southern Coalition continue to stir the pot.

  • Lorna Schuler Jun 17, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Racism exists in all colors, genders and religions around the globe. It always has and always will. Yes, it is popular to proclaim that only whites are racist. It just simply is not true.

  • lopo Jun 17, 2014

    Seems the racial bias is coming form the other side. Just let the officers do their job. An old cop once told me; why go after rabbits if gophers are destroying your garden.