Durham Police Department

Durham Police at Jesus Huerta protest in December 2013
Laura Lee

    

Across the nation, protestors have taken to the street to call for reforms in police action. The protests come in the wake of  two grand juries declining to indict police officers who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

From the coast to the mountains, activists in North Carolina have joined the movement calling for greater police accountability.

crime scene tape
Ian Britton / Flickr/Creative Commons

There have been 17 murders in Durham so far this year, a number that is pretty average for the past five years or so in the city.  But the Durham Police Department isn't just focusing on investigations that are current, they are also making an effort to investigate more than 150 murders that are still unsolved. 

Sergeant David Piatt, with the Homicide Investigation Unit is keenly aware that the families of those victims are still waiting for answers,.

"I don't think you can say one person is more important than the other.  They all deserve closure,"  he says.

Photo: Durham Police headquarters
Durham Police

Members of the Durham City Council are trying to address concerns that police officers disproportionately stop and search black men. Four of the seven members gave their support on Thursday afternoon for requiring officers to get a driver's written consent before searching his vehicle.
 

City manager Tom Bonfield has suggested officers should be required to get consent in some recorded form - either video, audio or writing - but Mayor Bill Bell says that overcomplicates things.

Photo: The Durham City Council debated night to require police officers get written consent from drivers before being able to search a vehicle.
Jorge Valencia

In Durham, members of the city council want to require police to get written consent from drivers before searching a vehicle.

The debate over vehicle searches stems from complaints that some Durham officers have unfairly targeted minorities.

Some residents and community groups say black men are often arbitrarily stopped and searched.

Durham City Council hears recommendations from City Manager on how to improve police and community relations (photo of city council).
Jorge Valencia

  The Durham Police Department has been accused of racial profiling, which led the Human Relations Commission to recommend changes in policy and procedure in May.

Photo: Rows of people, the Durham City Council and Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield
Jorge Valencia

The Durham city manager presented the city council recommendations in a packed hearing on Thursday to improve the relationship between the police and minority groups.

It's a long-awaited response to an investigation by the city's Human Relations Commission on claims that the police targets minorities. In his report, city manager Tom Bonfield had some clear findings.

"Our review and the data tells us in some areas, unexplained racial disparities do exist," Bonfield said to the council.

A portrait og Tom Bonfield
City of Durham

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield is recommending that the Police Department require officers to complete racial equality training.

It's just one of dozens of points from a 131-page report his office compiled in response to complaints of racial bias and profiling within the department.

City Manager Tom Bonfield wrote that he reviewed the recommendations with the police department and six community advocacy groups.

Durham Police
Durham Police Department

The Durham Police Department is investigating an incident in which an officer lied about receiving a 911 call from a residence to gain access to the home and serve a warrant.

The officer told a District Court judge in May that it was a common practice within Durham's police department.

Police Chief Jose Lopez issued a memo to the department stating that fabricating 911 calls is not a policy.

City Manager Tom Bonfield says he assumes this is an isolated incident, but that it's unacceptable and bears investigation.

A portrait og Tom Bonfield
City of Durham

Spurred by complaints about racial bias in the Durham Police Department, City Manager Tom Bonfield said he'll review recommendations to improve relations with the community.

“I recognize the critical importance of a trusting relationship between a community police department and the community. And I also recognize that and the end of the day, I'm responsible for the actions of the department and how that plays out in terms of the relationship.”

James Williams
Leoneda Inge

Community organizations and faith-based groups in Durham are calling for a series of measures to help end what they call "racial profiling" by the Durham Police Department.

Representatives of the NAACP, Durham Congregations in Action, Fostering Alternatives in Drug Enforcement -- or FADE -- and several other groups are pushing for five main changes.

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