Local News

Durham residents give input on new police chief

Posted December 14, 2015 5:51 p.m. EST
Updated December 16, 2015 10:37 a.m. EST

— Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez will retire in less than three weeks, and the city began getting feedback from the community about his replacement Monday evening.

People who live in Durham were invited to give input to the agency that will help the city find a new chief during the first phase of a national search that will also involve feedback from the police department and city leaders.

The couple dozen people who attended did not hold back about what they want in the new police chief and the changes they would like to see within the department as a whole.

"The next chef hired should not just talk the talk, they should have a demonstrated, verifiable history," said one man.

For Vivian McCoy, officer retention was a top priority.

"This city is larger than it once was and we still don't have enough police officers in this city. That's one of the key problems right there," she said.

Kynita Stringer-Stanback said she wants a chief who is mindful of Durham's diversity and deems each community within the city to be important.

"I want to see someone who is able to communicate across the board. I really want to see someone who knows how to communicate with a diverse population, a diverse community," said Stringer-Stanback.

A second meeting will be held in Spanish at El Centro at 600 E. Main Street on Tuesday night to encourage input from all parts of the Durham community.

According to City Manager Tom Bonfield, the recruitment process is expected to take about four months. Deputy Chief Larry Smith, a 27-year veteran of the Durham Police Department, will serve as interim police chief beginning Jan. 1.

The community has had mixed reactions to Lopez’s departure since he announced his retirement in September. A number of issues that were brought up Monday night went back to whether the public can trust the chief and department, or even trust that their input would be considered.

A representative from Developmental Associates, LLC, the search agency hired to help the city collect data and feedback while selecting a new chief, was responsible for taking notes at Monday's meeting. Racial profiling, police brutality, and community relations were among many concerns brought up as topics the crowd wanted the new chief to address head-on.

"What I want is a police officer who is not going to preface certain zip codes in our community, who's not going to be in the 07 but over here," said Stringer-Stanback. "I want someone who's going to be everywhere or nowhere."

Residents who could not attend either meeting but want to provide feedback can do so on a special website created by Developmental Associates, LLC.