Report Reveals Alleged Racial Improprieties Within Greensboro P.D.
Posted January 11, 2006
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Claims of racism and a department cover-up of an undercover operation have led to the resignation of the chief of the Greensboro Police Department.
Former police chief David Wray covered the existence of a "black book" with pictures of at least 19 black officers and tried to obscure the actions of a unit that unfairly investigated targeted black officers, the city manager said Tuesday.
An internal probe into the police department found that Wray, who resigned as chief on Monday, covered up the actions of the Special Intelligence Section, city manager Mitchell Johnson said.
"If I was a black officer, I would certainly feel targeted," Johnson said. "Whether it represents systematic racism, or simply very poor decision making ... is yet to be determined."
He disclosed some details of one report of the investigation after the City Council voted unanimously to make the information public, saying they wanted to clear up rumors and misconceptions.
He declined to discuss a second report outlining other improprieties, saying he has yet to review it.
Johnson gave few details of how the five-member Special Intelligence squad used the black book, which he described as a police line-up.
"The activities of this unit and its continued pursuit of unproven, previously investigated and unsubstantiated charges against certain African-American officers created an atmosphere of fear, distrust and suspicion, which undermined the department's morale and efficiency," he said.
Wray came under scrutiny as the city investigated complaints about the Special Intelligence Section, which investigates gang activity, monitors hate groups, provides security for city officials and investigates criminal allegations made against city officers.
In June 2005, the unit was caught trailing a black officer, Lt. James Hinson, who found an electronic tracker that had been placed on his vehicle by a retired detective contracting with the unit.
An attorney for Hinson, who heads the local black officers association and has led youth and anti-crime programs, soon accused the unit of targeting black officers.
Senior officers said Hinson was being investigated for conducting personal business on city time. On June 17, Chief Wray announced he was suspending Hinson with pay.
[Hinson] had been cleared of those charges prior to June 17 -- in fact, prior to the year 2005, said Johnson.
In a letter faxed to local media, Wray acknowledged "certain events during the last several months have created controversy."
"During this period I have at all times acted in what I believed to be the best interest of the department and the community, attempting to find balance between a number of conflicting interests," he wrote.
"The result, however, is that the city manager and some others have lost confidence and trust in my ability to lead. This is my great regret."
No word on whether the unit ever profiled other officers. No white officers were included in the document when it was found.
The probe has led to sweeping changes in how the Greensboro police department does business. Two other high-ranking officers retired without notice the week after Thanksgiving, immediately after interviewing with investigators. Lt. Hinson returned to work, cleared of all charges.