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Durham officials weigh police department complaints

Posted September 19, 2013

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— Recent incidents involving the Durham Police Department have prompted calls for change.

On Tuesday, police shot and killed Derek Walker in a downtown plaza after an hour-long standoff during which the distraught 26-year-old waved a gun and threatened suicide.

His family said Thursday that they would like to see the police department change how it handles suicidal situations, including having certified psychiatrists on the scene of similar situations in the future.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell and City Manager Tom Bonfield Mayor wants community meetings to discuss police issues

"You didn't have to give him his request to die," said Walker's aunt, Norma Burton. "The main thing I'm looking for is to make sure this doesn't occur again."

Spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the police department doesn't have a psychiatrist on staff, but more than 275 officers receive at least 40 hours of crisis intervention training. The department also has specially trained hostage negotiators, she said.

Another group took its case to Durham City Council Thursday afternoon.

Attorney David Hall asked that Police Chief Jose Lopez and city managers go through racial equity training.

Hall was hit by a stray bullet during a June drive-by shooting, and Lopez is accused of telling some of his officers later that Hall deserved to be shot because he is a defense attorney.

"Durham has a runny nose, and I'm tired of being the Kleenex on that runny nose," Hall said. "We need to work on the root causes to institutional racism."

Mayor Bill Bell said he wants to hold a series of meetings with the community through the city's Human Relations Commission to address people's complaints with the police department.

"I don't take any of this as a joke. I take it quite seriously when people have been prejudiced, especially when it pertains to the police department," Bell said. "We aren't perfect, but we are open and transparent. No one is trying to hide anything under the table. We realize it takes time to get solutions."

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  • seankelly15 Sep 24, 2013

    Glock07 - "odd- http://www.ojjpac.org/sanctuary.asp

    This is amazing. A list of the best places NOT to live."

    Not sure how you have come to this conclusion.

  • Jack Flash Sep 23, 2013

    "The racism is with folks like Hall who turn a blind eye to the non-stop violence and killing among young black men."

    He's a defense attorney. How do you figure he's not neck-deep in concern over such a troubling epidemic?

    "How many residents of Durham are really complaining? A very, very small percentage."

    Well, where racism does exist, it's usually perpetrated against a smaller, less empowered group, so why would it be at all surprising or unusual that it's a small group complaining?

  • mramorak Sep 23, 2013

    I would love to see you all step into the chiefs shoes.

  • Jack Flash Sep 23, 2013

    "Where is institutional racism? Where is the racial unequality in the PD?"

    If you're asking rhetorically, you shouldn't be. While some people do indeed overreach in claiming there is racism present in a given incident, not listening or assuming they are wrong is a second wrong, and usually for worse reasons, I find.

    "Which is worse racism or the absence of fathers in the african american family."

    Racism, as it ties in w/ some of the root causes of why so many Black families are fractured. It strikes me as weird and more than just a little malicious that you would even bring that into the discussion here. It's like you want to distract from a discussion of whether there is racism involved in something by attacking the Black community over an unfortunate trend.

  • tatermommy52 Sep 20, 2013

    Which is worse racism or the absence of fathers in the african american family.

  • Glock07 Sep 20, 2013

    odd- http://www.ojjpac.org/sanctuary.asp

    This is amazing. A list of the best places NOT to live.

  • parcman Sep 20, 2013

    odd- http://www.ojjpac.org/sanctuary.asp

  • Glock07 Sep 20, 2013

    This is so sad. Racism, racism, racism. Every time you don't get your way.

  • foodstamptrader Sep 20, 2013

    It's funny that Mr. Hall sees the problem in Durham as being a snarky comment by Chief Lopez about attorneys instead of the fact that he was struck by a "stray bullet" in his beloved city.

    The racism is with folks like Hall who turn a blind eye to the non-stop violence and killing among young black men. That many Durham neighborhoods that are poor and black are also war zones. His tunnel visions belief that it is always the "racist" police's fault and "institutional racism" is just sad...

  • meeper Sep 19, 2013

    How many residents of Durham are really complaining? A very, very small percentage. Why are they getting so much air time? It's ridiculous! The world has gone politically correct crazy! The chief was cleared of racism, and was just joking around! Most people have said things much worse when joking.You folks straighten your lives out, do something constructive,and stop whining. Leave the chief alone. He's a good man who's doing a great job.

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