Local News

Controversy Heats Up in Fayetteville

Posted January 27, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Fayetteville City Council members are divided over what to do in the midst of racial allegations against that city's police department. Monday night was expected to be a busy one in council chambers and the outcome of the meeting could be important to the city.

There is a motion on the table to hire an outside investigator to look at both the police department and the city manager's office. That motion has prompted a debate that could include charges of politics and hidden agendas. In fact, the very role of city council has been questioned.

The controversy started last month when the N.A.A.C.P. charged there is a racially hostile work environment at the police department. The police chief and city manager denied those charges, and a federal agency began an investigation.

Two weeks ago, council members voted 5-to-4 to review the personnel files of three police officers, but no one has yet done that.

Some suggested that a consultant be brought in to investigate the matter, but the city manager says he will not cooperated with a consultant and suggested that city council members fire him if they lack confidence in him.

Council member Mark Kendrick says he thinks the council is about to overstep its authority.

A packed house was expected at the meeting and chairs and television sets were set up in the lobby of council chambers so that anyone left out can observe what's happening.