WJTV News Channel 12 - DURHAM: Durham panel recommends racial profiling fix

Durham panel recommends racial profiling fix

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DURHAM, N.C. -

A Durham city panel says the city's police department has a problem with racial profiling and is offering way the department can help correct the problem.

Durham's Human Relations Commission, a 15 member panel appointed by City Council, has outlined 34 ways police can better communicate with the public, train officers to deal with racial issues and improve oversight of officers.

This comes after months of public hearings and analysis of publicly-available traffic stop data by several outside groups like Durham FADE (Fostering Alternatives to Drug Enforcement) and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which shows black people in Durham are much more likely to be stopped and searched in traffic than whites.

Ian Mance, an attorney with the SCSJ would not call the findings a victory, but said he was pleased with the conclusions.

"They do very clearly say that they believe the evidence supports the conclusion that the department has engaged in racial profiling and they have rejected the department's claims that these statistical disparities are anomalies," Mance said.

The report recommends a list of changes, including a complete revamp of the police department's approach to public relations, including more outreach and publicity about the department's Partners Against Crime (PAC) meetings. The report also recommends all officers and staff go through psychiatric evaluations, that new recruits undergo training for racial equity, mental health and crisis intervention and commissioners say City Council, not the City Manager's office, should have oversight of the Citizens Police Review Board.

Commissioners also recommended officers be required to tell people they stop in traffic the reason for the stop.

City Council will now review those and dozens of other recommendations.

"I know my colleagues well enough to know, we'll take it very seriously," Councilor Don Moffitt said.

Moffitt is the council's liaison to the Human Relations Commission. He says he will wait to comment on the specific recommendations until the report is officially presented to council, but says the evidence is clear.

"The data indicates the possibility that the policies we have in Durham, that have been developed in well-meaning purposes, may result in disparities that need to be corrected," Moffitt said.

Moffitt expects the report to be presented to City Council on May 22.

Durham police declined to comment until City Council reviews the report, but in the past has maintained their officers do not engage in racial profiling.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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