Local News

Questionable police tactic concerns Durham chief

Posted July 9
Updated July 10

— A police officer's testimony that he used a questionable approach to make an arrest in a drug case prompted Durham prosecutors to dismiss the charges and has prompted the city's police chief to investigate whether anyone else uses the method.

"We are looking into it as a precautionary measure," Chief Jose Lopez said Wednesday. "I have no indication that any other officer has used this tactic. I just want to make sure no one else does."

The purported practice involves officers gaining entrance to a home under the pretense of investigating a 911 hang-up call.

Durham County Public Defender Morgan Canady said that was the situation involving the arrest of one her clients, who was charged after an officer told her a call had been made from her home and that he wanted to make sure everyone inside was safe.

The officer, A. Beck, testified during a hearing on May 27 that the tactic is something police "always do."

Lopez said that's not the case.

"We don't have a training system or policy that uses lying to get consent," he said.

After learning about Beck's testimony, he sent a memo, dated June 6, ordering any officers who might use the 911 hang-up story to stop immediately.

"I just wanted to make sure that officers know that this is not a practice," he said. "This leads the community to believe that this is a practice that we have. It really is not."

Beverly Thompson, a spokeswoman for Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield, said in a statement that he was aware of the investigation and agrees that it is "entirely unacceptable."

"This is basically someone who had a misconception who added one and one and came up with three," Lopez added. "Now that we see it, we are addressing it. That's what's important that we, as an organization, are learning. We won't repeat these things."

15 Comments

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  • less_govt_is_better_govt Jul 10, 11:53 a.m.

    Officer did nothing wrong.. yet it does not allow an officer to just walk into your home?

    So...
    View More

    — Posted by btneast

    I guess you missed the SCOTUS ruling that consent must be freely given.

    Consent was given because of intimidation and untruthful bullying by the officer. In NC the apparent mindset of some officers is they can perform such actions and then let the court system work it out, when in the citizen world the officer is not factually allowed to use those practices.

    It would appear as if a "liberal" judge is one who adheres to strict constitutional interpretations by some users. I presume they prefer a more liberal approach to the constitution which gives the government (police) the right to do whatever they want however they want, then label themselves conservative (of which they are factually not they are totalitarian).

  • berniwheeler Jul 10, 11:10 a.m.

    Officer did nothing wrong.. yet it does not allow an officer to just walk into your home?

    So...
    View More

    — Posted by btneast

    I have to enter your home because of a 911 call. Its policy.
    ummm ok..

    he lied. This is not "right". I guess you missed the whole moral point? He gained approval which he would not have otherwise obtained, because the whole concept is illegal. Are you a Durham cop cuz Im seeing a justify bad behavior rationalization going on here...

  • berniwheeler Jul 10, 10:50 a.m.

    It's interesting to read all the comments of those that feel this officer somehow broke the law... View More

    — Posted by thinkin out loud

    Wrong, wrong, and WRONG!

    Yes police can use "deception" (ie lying) for interrogation but courts... View More

    — Posted by less_govt_is_better_govt

    Its easy and relatively cheap (considering a bad cop can and would eaily ruin your whole life) to install motion activated wireless cameras. Remember, its your word as a "Criminal" against the word of an "upstanding officer" otherwise!!! This is supposed to be the land of the innocent until proven guilty justice system. Really... is it? take a look around...

  • btneast Jul 10, 10:49 a.m.

    Officer did nothing wrong.. yet it does not allow an officer to just walk into your home?

    So which is it?


    I guess you missed the sentence AND at some point someone had to give the officer CONSENT to enter the house

  • less_govt_is_better_govt Jul 10, 10:35 a.m.

    It's interesting to read all the comments of those that feel this officer somehow broke the law... View More

    — Posted by thinkin out loud

    Wrong, wrong, and WRONG!

    Yes police can use "deception" (ie lying) for interrogation but courts have ruled consent must be freely given. Until body cameras are on every officer NEVER believe that consent was freely given. Intimidation and bullying are the typical means of obtaining
    Officer: can I search the premises? Suspect: no. Officer: if you do not let me I can and will arrest you and your family. And no that part of the conversation never makes it on the officer's notes and will most likely never make it to the court room.....

  • same ole story Jul 10, 9:54 a.m.

    The purported practice involves officers gaining entrance to a home under the pretense of investigating a 911 hang-up call
    And THEY WONDER WHY no one trusts the police!!!!!

  • berniwheeler Jul 10, 9:28 a.m.

    It's interesting to read all the comments of those that feel this officer somehow broke the law... View More

    — Posted by thinkin out loud

    Officer did nothing wrong.. yet it does not allow an officer to just walk into your home?

    So which is it?

  • less_govt_is_better_govt Jul 10, 9:14 a.m.

    Psssshhh. Lol.

    Meanwhile in neighboring wake county from 2002 through 2010 the wake county sheriff would allow deputies to use any means possible to obtain consent to search to include coercion, untruthful statements,even communicating threats. It was then the accused citizen's job to prove that these actions occurred or they could just plea down the illegal charges.

    The supreme court ruled a long time ago that LEOs cannot obtain consent via intimidation but in wake and Durham counties this ruling was never payed any attention because consent was always so "productive" for finding criminals.

  • thinkin out loud Jul 10, 9:02 a.m.

    It's interesting to read all the comments of those that feel this officer somehow broke the law or violated the constitution. Though I agree this is an unusual tactic it IS NOT illegal nor unconstitutional. In fact, police officers are allowed to lie to people. Yes that's right, cops are allowed to lie to people (to an extent) in order to get information or confessions and the like. It's all part of interview and interrogation techniques but there are limitations. This case could have been prosecuted but the ADA probably knew he had a liberal judge and couldn't win so he dismissed it.

    In this case the officer actually did nothing wrong AND at some point someone had to give the officer CONSENT to enter the house unless the officer saw something that would cause exigent circumstances. 911 hang ups happen all the time and 99% are accidents from trying to dial 919. This does require a response but does not allow an officer to just walk in your home.

  • givemeabr8 Jul 10, 8:22 a.m.

    Officers lie ALL the time in the course of their duties. This is not limited to the Durham Police Department. Why is everyone so surprised over this?

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