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After Media Inquiry, Durham Officer Charged With Speeding

Posted January 29, 2008
Updated January 30, 2008

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— The Highway Patrol charged a Durham police officer with speeding 84 mph in a 45-mph zone Tuesday night in connection with a weekend traffic stop.

Officer Anthony Harris was off duty when he was stopped at about 7 p.m. Saturday on Junction Road near Club Boulevard, police said.

Trooper David Smith said Harris had been speeding, and he smelled alcohol on Harris' breath, said Lt. Everett Clendenin, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol. After administering several sobriety tests, Smith allowed Harris to go and didn't charge him with driving while impaired, Clendenin said.

"(He) formed the opinion this guy was not impaired," Clendenin said. "He did smell alcohol, but he didn't feel the impairment rose to the level of violating North Carolina law."

At the time, no speeding charge was filed against Harris either, Clendenin said, declining to elaborate.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, however, Clendenin said Harris was charged with driving 84 mph in a 45-mph zone and that the Highway Patrol will continue to investigate the officer's actions.

After the traffic stop, Smith called Harris' supervisor to report the incident. Clendenin said it's not the Highway Patrol's policy to inform other law enforcement agencies when an officer is pulled over.

"He said he felt compelled to let Durham police know he'd stopped an officer for speeding and drinking," he said. "Some people may think (it's favoritism). I will say the fact that the trooper went the extra mile to contact a supervisor lets me know (that), had this off-duty officer been impaired, he would've been charged."

Highway Patrol officials initially said Smith, who has been with the agency for eight years, did nothing wrong in the case. But Clendenin said Tuesday afternoon that the agency was reviewing his actions after media inquires into the incident.

The Durham Police Department opened an internal investigation into Harris' actions, but the officer wasn't placed on leave or administrative duty as a result of the traffic stop, Chief Jose Lopez said.

"We're going to look at the totality of the circumstances to see what happened and go from there and see what action is appropriate," Lopez said.

167 Comments

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  • Common Sense Man Jan 31, 2008

    "I don't threaten. You just need to make up your mind if you want officers to have discretion or not. If not, then I'll be writing tickets about every 30 seconds, for everything under the sun. The glass house you put LE under is why much of LE doesn't trust the public. That and the fact that about 1 out of every 100 stops, the driver will actually tell the truth."

    Discretion yes, but not when it's 40 MPH over.

  • leo-nc Jan 31, 2008

    ".. is EXACTLY what others on the board here are discussing.. "Holier than thou" attitude... very professional sir... now you are going to threaten everyone on this board??? sheesh... (rolling eyes)"

    I don't threaten. You just need to make up your mind if you want officers to have discretion or not. If not, then I'll be writing tickets about every 30 seconds, for everything under the sun. The glass house you put LE under is why much of LE doesn't trust the public. That and the fact that about 1 out of every 100 stops, the driver will actually tell the truth.

  • Common Sense Man Jan 30, 2008

    Teal,
    I agree. Some of the attitudes of LEO on this board have been a little less than appealing. Some of the posts were before WRAL posted the speed though. But at that speed officers should expect a ticket.

  • tealsatin Jan 30, 2008

    To leo-nc: IF you are truly a law enforcement officer, your comment:
    "So for everyone here, make sure that when you see an officer on the side of the road with his lights on, you move over because if not, I am going to write you a $370.00 ticket. No more warnings.

    ... is EXACTLY what others on the board here are discussing.. "Holier than thou" attitude... very professional sir... now you are going to threaten everyone on this board??? sheesh... (rolling eyes)

  • Common Sense Man Jan 30, 2008

    "if he wasn't covering up the officer's actions from the public, why didn't he follow proper procedure during the stop and at least issue a warning?"

    Show me where "proper procedure" is to issue a warning please. And from another post of mine... "I don't agree that what he did was right and I won't support him in that, but a speeding ticket should not land your picture on the news."

  • Tater Salad Jan 30, 2008

    if he wasn't covering up the officer's actions from the public, why didn't he follow proper procedure during the stop and at least issue a warning?

    might want to stop playing the fool and realize that there is fault to be placed here instead of trying to avoid the situation and play it off like no wrong was committed.

    how many LEOs do YOU know Cookie, who let average joe civilians off the hook for 39 miles over the speed limit?

  • Common Sense Man Jan 30, 2008

    "buckos18 - the story is about the corruption in our law enforcemnt that let the HWP not give the LEO a ticket, solely because he's a LEO. You may not feel that it's important, but I think most people think corruption is a very important issue."

    If the Trooper was corrupt why did he call the officer's supervisor? Might want to find a new word.

  • leo-nc Jan 30, 2008

    So for everyone here, make sure that when you see an officer on the side of the road with his lights on, you move over because if not, I am going to write you a $370.00 ticket. No more warnings.

  • The Dude Jan 30, 2008

    You can't fire the officer for not writing the ticket, yokel. He has discretion to write a ticket or not. Just because it was a cop does not take away his discretion. They can certainly have a discussion with him and recommend he respond differently, but the call was ultimately his. The only law in North Carolina that takes an officer's discretion away is in domestic violence issues. Look it up before you call for someone's job.

  • Voice of Reason 23 Jan 30, 2008

    buckos18 - the story is about the corruption in our law enforcemnt that let the HWP not give the LEO a ticket, solely because he's a LEO.
    You may not feel that it's important, but I think most people think corruption is a very important issue.

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