Local News

Durham Police Chief Steps Aside, Temporarily

Posted December 9, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— Durham's police chief announced Monday afternoon that he would temporarily turn most of his duties over to his second in command and focus his attention on a homicide task force.

Many were shocked by Chief Jackie McNeil's announcement, which comes on the heels of controversy about his leadership and the department in general. McNeil says it's something he feels he needs to do.

Critics point to the city's record murder and high crime rates, and several police officers have filed a lawsuit charging that the police department is rife with racism and sexual harassment. An audit of the department has called daily management policies into question.

McNeil refused to comment on those charges. He said Monday that he is retaining the title of Chief of Police and will continue to work out of his office. He said he would resume his duties as chief once he is satisfied that the task force, which will be designed to reduce Durham's murder rate, is operating as he wishes. Lt. Col Ken Fletcher, said McNeil, will act as police chief during this period.

McNeil said he has the support of Durham's mayor and city manager and an unidentified religious leader in this effort. He said he wants to form a coalition consisting of police department personnel and community leaders on the task force.

He said he hopes this move will take the spotlight off of the police department and place it on efforts to fight crime.