WRAL Investigates

Raleigh police chief defends Civil War field trip

Posted July 23, 2012
Updated July 24, 2012

— Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan is once again defending himself against criticism from a local police union that says a recent trip for officers was a waste of public tax dollars and police department resources.

Two dozen police lieutenants took a three-day trip to Civil War battlefields in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania in June as part of the Raleigh Police Department's leadership and management training program.

"The majority of people who went on this training found it very fulfilling, found it good to work with their peers (who) are going to lead this department in the near future," Dolan said.

Teamsters Local 391, which represents the police interest group Raleigh Police Protective Association, says the trip had no relevance to the officers' jobs.

According to the police department, its purpose was for the lieutenants to learn how political and military leaders made decisions under pressure and to study how leaders emerged during the war.

Days were 12 hours long with no downtime, and the officers used their rooms only to sleep.

"The military has been a great, great source of leadership and technology for us. So, to look at how that arena operates, I think, is beneficial," Dolan said.

Chip Roth, a spokesman for Teamsters, disagrees. He calls the trip nothing more than a history lesson that has "no relevance to our everyday world."

"The idea that this type of trip could translate into something practical and meaningful for this department is beyond a stretch. It simply doesn't make sense," he said.

Raleigh police Dolan defends trip for management training

"Leadership is important for the Raleigh Police Department, but what this demonstrates is the lack of leadership of the chief himself, because he is spending resources – tax dollars – at a time when the city budget is very tight, when the police department budget itself is very tight," Roth added.

It's still not exactly clear how much the trip ended up costing. The police department says the preliminary cost was $7,700 for housing and food.

But the cost of the four-week leadership program, Dolan says, pales in comparison to the cost of a potential lawsuit.

Since the program started in 2009, 276 police employees have completed the program, including 145 sergeants and 114 officers and detectives.

"It's vitally important that we provide this training to our officers," Dolan said. "I would say, overall, the leadership development program has been exceptionally successful."

For example, he points out that, of police officers' 20,000 arrests last year, the department received only nine complaints about "use of force" and 42 citizen complaints.

"That's absolutely incredible," Dolan said. "That's leadership from the front. That's a disciplined, well-trained police department."

This isn't the first time that the Teamsters has criticized Dolan for his leadership.

This month, more than 200 police officers represented by the union filed grievances with the city over Dolan's new employee performance evaluation system.

The group has also blasted him for mismanagement, in part, for how he handled an internal police probe of sexual misconduct allegations that led to at least one police officer being fired.

100 Comments

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  • bosshog Jul 26, 11:31 a.m.

    For those who think the Teamsters are just trying to stir up trouble, you are wrong. WRAL was investigating this story and went to the Teamsters for a comment. Obviously the majority of the officers do not support Harry and the media and public are beginning to catch on to this CORRUPT chief. I am appalled that the City Manager (well, not really since he is one of Harry's cronies) and the Mayor/City Council are not doing more to get to the bottom of the allegations of corruption that are out there about Harry. He screwed up in Lumberton, then in Michigan, and now is about to bankrupt Raleigh when the City pays out on BOTH of the lawsuits that are pending against him. What is it going to take City Leaders?? The majority of the officers have NO CONFIDENCE in Harry and his poor decisions are putting Raleigh in a negative light. The longer you keep him around, the more damage to the PD and the City as a whole. Act NOW--get rid of Harry!

  • pipcolt Jul 24, 3:16 p.m.

    they could have spent the money here in the state seeing as they were going to spend it anyway..

  • gunny462 Jul 24, 3:10 p.m.

    Interesting reading the posts on here for and against these trips. I do have to ask what did the LEOs learn at historic battlefields?

    "purpose was for the lieutenants to learn how political and military leaders made decisions under pressure and to study how leaders emerged during the war"

    Why didn't they just go to quantico or as one put it, here in NC? I'd rather have seen them ultilize the cash on team building and community relations. Visit another state capital and watch how they react to crisis situations and evaluate their emergency continuity structure compared to others. To say they learned from past military leaders on battlefields from the civil war is just to much imho.

  • Relic Jul 24, 2:33 p.m.

    jjsmith1973 - I'm all for the tanks! They could be used to tear down blighted houses and run-down neighborhoods between calls. They would make serving search warrants a lot easier...justt push the cannon through the door. That's the first good idea I've ever seen you post on this site!!

  • Reformed Liberal Jul 24, 2:21 p.m.

    You are all just jealous because you couldn't go.

  • Reformed Liberal Jul 24, 2:20 p.m.

    Don't forget to target middle-school field trips which are a waste of tax money as well. Your spoiled children shouldn't be running around the zoo or museums on my tax money as well. God forbid the get any inspiration out it as well. They just might end up as free thinkers. Can't let that happen. Do not deviate from the plan put forth by the Central Agency of Bureaucracy.

  • Retired07 Jul 24, 2:19 p.m.

    I agree it is an awesome trip to see the civil war sites. Too bad all the citizens that paid for this wonderful vacation can t enjoy them on someone else s dime.

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 24, 2:18 p.m.

    @conservativevoter if someone speaks against the way and type of training was chosen that makes them a disgruntled cop? By that line of thinking, that would make you Dolan by your comments

  • Relic Jul 24, 2:16 p.m.

    @sarcasticles - He can't use money from your "speed trap" because none of the money from citations goes to the Police Department or any law enforcement agency. It goes to the courts, school systems and a couple of bucks to the general law enforcement retirement fund (which doesn't increase retirement based on how many citations are written). See, sarcasm only really works good when it applies to the situation. Remember, it's all for the children... (see, that's sarcasm.)

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 24, 2:13 p.m.

    Better yet, why stop at war college, military training? Lets get them out of those cop cars and get them some tanks.

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