Chapel Hill town manager defends Occupy arrests
Posted January 7, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Chapel Hill town manager Roger Stancil defended the actions of Chapel Hill police officers in the November arrests of seven Occupy protesters in a report released Friday night, saying their actions were the best decisions that could be made given the information available at the time.
The report will be presented Monday at the Town Council's next meeting.
According to the report, officers took the proper steps to try and communicate with protesters who had created an illegal encampment in the Yates Motor Co. building, at 419 W. Franklin St., before they entered the building and removed the protesters.
At a Chapel Hill Town Council meeting days after the Nov. 13 arrests, some people associated with the Occupy Chapel Hill movement were upset that police used special tactics gear and entered the cold car dealership with guns drawn.
According to Stancil, however, the actions of the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) actions were consistent with training designed to minimize the potential for unintended consequences and injury.
Stancil's report did highlight the need for better communication in the future when making tactical decisions that could have a larger impact on the community, but said the on-scene actions of Chapel Hill police chief Chris Blue and his assistant chiefs were consistent with their training.
Despite the overall positive tone of the report, Stancil did note the detention of two members of the media during the raid, saying that the police and press need to learn from each other and develop ways to interact at crime scenes and other situations without interfering with each other.
Stancil says changes to the town's media relations policies are underway as a result of November's incident.