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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield sets timetable for police department review

Posted by on Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 8:03 AM

So much for summer vacation.
Starting this week, Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield will spend the next two months reviewing and evaluating each of the 44 recommendations to address issues of racial profiling at the Durham Police Department, according to a letter Bonfield sent to City Council yesterday. Bonfield will have a full report for City Council no later than the Aug. 21 work session, and possibly as early as Aug. 7.

Tom Bonfield_police_response.pdf City of Durham

After six months of public hearings and debate over police conduct, particularly as it involves racial profiling and use of force, the Human Relations Commission issued 34 of the recommendations  the Civilian Police Review Board sent an additional 10.

human_relations_commission_majority_report.pdf City of Durham  
hurman_relations_commission_minority_report.pdf City of Durham
Three members of the HRC issued a minority report disagreeing with the conclusions of their colleagues. 

Chief Jose Lopez has consistently denied that his department engages in racial profiling. After three DPD-related shootings last year in which three people died, the Durham District Attorney did not charge any of the officers with a crime.

The review will consist of meetings with DPD—Chief Lopez reports to Bonfield—and the advocacy groups that have spoken before the city about police conduct: the FADE Coalition, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the Durham chapter of the NAACP.  "The purpose of these meetings is not to 're-hear' the testimony" presented before the HRC, but to "hear their thoughts and priorities on the recommendations," the letter read.

Bonfield said he will also confer with the city attorney's office on the legality, both state and local, of some of the recommendations.

"If during the course of this review it becomes apparent and within my authority to direct its implementation, I will do so immediately," Bonfield wrote. "Other recommendations that may sustain concurrence but are outside of my authority will need to come back to the City Council for consideration. Also, it is reasonable to expect that some recommendations ... will not receive my concurrence."

Last month, Bonfield told City Council he would "personally lead the review of the recommendations." 
"I take the concerns raised by the community, as well as those raised by advocacy organizations, very, very seriously and recognized the necessity for a trusting relationship between the Durham community and the Durham Police Department."

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