Local News

Judge Rules Durham Officers' Names Can Be Withheld

Posted November 14, 2007

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— A judge on Wednesday ruled that the Durham Police Department doesn't have to release the names of officers put on administrative leave last week as part of a department investigation.

Several Durham officers were placed on leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation. WRAL learned the probe centers on allegations of sexual misconduct involving officers and prostitutes.

Police Chief Jose Lopez said the allegations surfaced shortly after he took over the department in September. Fewer than 10 officers, ranging from rookies to veterans, were involved, he said, declining to identify the officers or reveal other details about the case.

Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent company of WRAL, sued the city of Durham, the police department and Lopez, maintaining that the names of the officers on leave should be provided to the media under the North Carolina Public Records Act.

"The public has a right to know who is being paid but not being allowed to work," said Bill Moss, an attorney representing Capitol.

Moss also said withholding the names was inconsistent with the police department's past practices concerning officers involved in shootings or official actions.

Others agreed that police department should release the names.

"I think police department has had well-documented problems over the last year and a half. They need to be transparent in what they're doing," Durham defense attorney Mark Edwards said.

Assistant City Attorney Kim Grantham argued that the public has a right to know only if a city employee has been promoted, transferred, demoted, suspended or fired and not whether an employee has been put on administrative leave. Under state law, public agencies must divulge to the public any change in status for employees when asked.

"It would be very prejudicial to employees to release their names while on administrative leave during an investigation before determination of any wrongdoing," Grantham said.

She also said releasing any names could jeopardize the police department's internal investigation. It was unclear how long the investigation would take to complete.

Superior Court Judge Carl Fox agreed with the city that being placed on administrative leave doesn't constitute a change in employment status.

Capitol hasn't decided whether to appeal the ruling.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Nancy Nov 15, 2007

    "You are all right Nancy. At least you are intellegent to spar with. Marco polo too. Why dont you move to Durham and put your money where your mouth is?? lol"

    ncmickey, thanks but I think I'll stick it out in Wake County :)

    and I appreciate the civil to and fro we've had!

  • wcnc Nov 15, 2007

    I agree that the names should not be released until the investigation is complete. With the way the media and these posters convicts people who end up being innocent, I wouldn't want any names released until we find out who the "guilty" ones are. Then, release the names of the guilty!! What is the problem with that?? That way, if someone's name was given who turns out not to have done a thing wrong will not be threatened, condemned, etc in the media.

  • casp3r Nov 15, 2007

    No way this happend in Durham. Lies, all lies.

  • ncmickey Nov 15, 2007

    Ok...charge was removed....but you get my point. OJ was found innocent also....

    You are all right Nancy. At least you are intellegent to spar with. Marco polo too. Why dont you move to Durham and put your money where your mouth is?? lol

  • Nancy Nov 15, 2007

    ncmickey, the charge was vacated, removed, but I won't play semantics games.

  • ncmickey Nov 15, 2007

    Nancy, as it should be, he was released from sentence cause he had already pleaded guily and was on probation at the time of the lax situation. He was violated at that time for not staying out of trouble. Since the rape stuff was false, it was reversed also.
    Doesnt make him innocent. Just like Jena 6, he was in a group that assaulted another guy. He might of only faked a punch, but his friend did punch someone.

    Lets get this thread back on track. I am ok with them withholding the names until the point they are charged. From the reports other officers have been cleared. They obvously are doing an extensive investigation and are finding the guilty ones. I will reserve condemning the police till after the investigation. Just like I did with the dook rape case.

    I think its the responsible thing to to.

  • rnsjr Nov 15, 2007

    The police are getting special treatment here. Anyone else acused of this (your average joe) would have his name splattered all over the media. Even if he was innocent. Remember Duke Lacrosse?

  • JDPike Nov 15, 2007

    You would think that the people of Durham would have learned something from the Duke lacrosse case about jumping to conclusions. Good job chief.

  • Space Mountain Nov 15, 2007

    "I believe NC General Statute 207.3.1 specifically states that the names of Law Enforcement Officers charged with misconduct become public record and may be provided in the local media."

    But they have not been charged yet.

  • Nancy Nov 15, 2007

    ncmickey - from other reports...

    “A Washington, D.C., judge said last month that he would wipe the simple-assault case against Collin Finnerty off his record, six days after Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong dropped the rape charge against the former Duke lacrosse player.

    “Finnerty was convicted in July of misdemeanor simple assault stemming from a November 2005 incident outside a Georgetown bar. He was accused of threatening and taunting a Washington man after a night of drinking.

    “On Dec. 28, D.C. Superior Court Judge John H. Bayly Jr. ended Finnerty's probation, said Leah Gurowitz, spokeswoman for the D.C. Courts.