Wednesday, November 19, 2008

CIVILIAN REVIEW (WCHL Commentary)

In recent weeks, you have heard two commentaries in support of a petition to create a civilian review board for our Chapel Hill police; today you will hear one opposed.

Mr. Barry Freeman said a board is needed because of the way he and his wife were treated by an officer while they were protesting the opening of the Army’s Career Center in December, 2006. I was there and observed a police officer politely ask the couple three times to put down their sign while on private property, or move to the public area where they could protest with their sign. They refused. The officer told them he would have to cuff and arrest them. They still refused and the officer did as he said he would do. I observed the officer exercising extreme care and courtesy. The Freemans, not the officer, displayed improper behavior.

During 2007, out of thousand and thousands of citizen contacts, the Chapel Hill Police Department received 26 citizen complaints and only one complaint was sustained. I fear that a citizen review board here is a solution looking for a problem because we already have several mechanisms. Also, it would take authority away from our chief to hold officers accountable for their actions in a timely and appropriate fashion, and it would make our force less effective. If we don’t think our chief can the job that we have asked him to do, we need to get a new chief.

Our officers have a very tough job, and they typically do it very well. If only all citizens upheld their responsibilities just as well.

4 comments:

ge said...

You write "we already have several mechanisms". I'm sure this has been explained elsewhere, but I'd appreciate an elaboration.

Thanks,
ge

Fred said...

George, if the internal process fails:

Chapel Hill Police Department Policy No. 4-10, entitled “Internal Affairs and Complaints,” states: “All complaints, regardless of the manner in which they are presented, will be received and documented. Any employee contacted, in any manner, regarding a complaint against an employee or the department will immediately notify an on-duty supervisor. Upon being notified, the on-duty supervisor will document the complaint…” Following the department’s investigation and decision as to the complaint, the “Chief of Police will notify the complainant in writing, regarding the completion of the investigation, subject to personnel privacy restrictions in NCGS 160A-168.”

the a citizen can go to the Council, advocacy groups, and the courts. All have been used.

Fred said...

Forgot a step - between the Chief and the Council is the Town Manager. The Chief reports to him and he hires and fires the Chief.

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