The search for Durham’s next police chief gets off to a rocky start | Triangulator | Indy Week
Pin It

The search for Durham’s next police chief gets off to a rocky start 

lopez.jpg

Given the Durham Police Department's scandal-plagued recent history—accusations of racial profiling, the mysterious shooting of a teenager in the back of a squad car, the forced resignation of Police Chief Jose Lopez in September—you'd think the first public forum seeking input on Lopez's replacement would be teeming with fire-breathing protesters.

Nope. Instead, about 30-odd citizens—a third of them either local media or politicians—turned up Monday night at the Holton Resource Center in East Durham. A representative from Developmental Associates, the firm tapped to manage the selection process, had to ask the crowd to move to the front of the auditorium, like a lead singer on a weeknight in Duluth.

Developmental Associates president Steve Straus opened things up by explaining, in fairly satisfying detail, how things will move forward between now and April, when Lopez's successor is expected to be named. There will be a multi-stage screening process that will include government officials, police chiefs from other cities in the region and even regular citizens, he promised. It all sounded rigorous and logical.

Next, former N.C. Central police chief Willie Williams, now a senior consultant with Developmental Associates, roamed the room with a microphone, allowing those who wished to speak three minutes to say their peace.

Most simply voiced displeasure with the current state of the DPD—implicit bias, rumors of checkpoints aimed at Hispanics, marijuana enforcement and other strains of overzealous policing. Others spoke of the necessary characteristics of a new chief: emotional intelligence, communication skills, a proven track record of changing good-ol'-boy police cultures.

So far, so good. But then, toward the end of the forum, Straus revealed that a closed-door meeting was planned at City Hall the following day with some "associates" from the community. No, he wouldn't say who. Just some "folks" who had worked with the DPD. And some business "folks." He assured the crowd that their input would count just the same as the input gathered Tuesday with these unnamed folks.

Even so, it became clear that several grassroots organizations that have been active in police-reform efforts—FADE, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, SpiritHouse and others—weren't on the invite list. And that didn't go over well.

SpiritHouse executive director Nia Wilson told the INDY Tuesday that she's worried about the lack of transparency. "It's not just that we were left out," she says. "It's the way the information came out, like we weren't supposed to know about it."

At the forum Monday, new City Council member Jillian Johnson echoed Wilson's unease.

"I'm concerned that you guys are not asking all the right questions," she said. "I think the community should have been involved in shaping what the questions were tonight, rather than just being asked to answer your questions."

Reach the INDY's Triangulator team at triangulator@indyweek.com.


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Triangulator



Twitter Activity

Comments

This story appears to have been recycled a handful of times. Didn't Jedidiah Gant used to work for the Indyweek? …

by chiburbbi on Raleigh Businesses Team Up to Help Houston’s Hurricane Harvey Victims (Triangulator)

In 1986 I joined the IBEW and its local union 379. The Union and Apprenticeship thought me how to become …

by Scott Thrower on The Boss: N.C. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan on Shattering Stereotypes and Organizing in an Antiunion State (Triangulator)

Most Recent Comments

This story appears to have been recycled a handful of times. Didn't Jedidiah Gant used to work for the Indyweek? …

by chiburbbi on Raleigh Businesses Team Up to Help Houston’s Hurricane Harvey Victims (Triangulator)

In 1986 I joined the IBEW and its local union 379. The Union and Apprenticeship thought me how to become …

by Scott Thrower on The Boss: N.C. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan on Shattering Stereotypes and Organizing in an Antiunion State (Triangulator)

Hell yeah, MaryBe! Let's organize the South!

by Jeremy Sprinkle on The Boss: N.C. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan on Shattering Stereotypes and Organizing in an Antiunion State (Triangulator)

The union I am a member of saved my life. It provided a good wage, which allowed me to buy …

by Ash Lee Aitch on The Boss: N.C. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan on Shattering Stereotypes and Organizing in an Antiunion State (Triangulator)

We're in the South. We don't need unions, never did and still don't. We also don't need a nice little …

by Barbara 2 on The Boss: N.C. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan on Shattering Stereotypes and Organizing in an Antiunion State (Triangulator)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation