Local News

NAACP praises Durham police for Facebook comment probe

Posted December 18, 2008 4:43 p.m. EST

— The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People praised the Durham police chief for conducting a "transparent and forthcoming" investigation into alleged racial slurs posted online by Durham police officers after Barack Obama's electoral win.

Fred Foster, president of the Durham chapter of the NAACP, commended Chief Jose Lopez for taking the complaint seriously, acting immediately and conveying the results of the investigation to the public.

"The chief has acted with speed and transparency in the investigation, and this has set a good model for others to follow," Foster said, in a statement.

An internal investigation cleared two officers of making racial slurs on their personal Facebook pages. Investigators determined that one alleged slur was actually a martial-arts term and that in another comment, the officer mistakenly referred to the equal-rights amendment.

The probe into complaints against a third officer was ongoing, but police said that the claims were so are so far unsubstantiated. One officer was disciplined for identifying himself as an officer on Facebook.

Early on, Foster had urged the police department to release information about the investigation, saying rumors about it were harming public trust. However, the ongoing investigation has done a lot to restore that trust, he said Thursday.

"This meets the NAACP's criteria that we have been promoting throughout the community dealing with training, transparency and trust. The police department is composed of public servants, which means that public trust is the cornerstone of their effectiveness," Foster said.

Foster said he hopes that Lopez will act with similar transparency if other allegations of abuse emerge in the future.

"If he is consistent with being fast, transparent and building trust when there are serious allegations, then we believe that we can develop trust between the community and the police," he said. "The Durham branch of the NAACP looks forward to working with Chief Jose Lopez."