Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Nifong, Duke, and Gottlieb

Thanks to recent articles from the N&O and especially the Duke Chronicle, we now know that:
  • for a period of several months before the lacrosse incident, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb arrested 10 times as many Duke students as the district's other three squad commanders combined;
  • the sergeant--who, the N&O took pains to note, has no degree beyond high school--appears to have engaged in ethnic stereotyping, asking one foreign-born Duke student if he needed to speak to his consulate and threatening another with deportation;
  • several Duke students (of varying genders and ethnicities, and all unconnected to the lacrosse team) accused Gottlieb of behaving as he has in the lacrosse case--misstating facts and violating standard procedures.
It seems to me that local journalists need to follow up with a series of additional questions. For Nifong:
  1. What actions has the Durham D.A.'s office taken to ensure that police officers uphold defendants' constitutional rights? Or did Nifong's infamous statement--"One would wonder why one needs an attorney if one was not charged and had not done anything wrong"--suggest a D.A.'s office that cares little about how cases reach the court?
  2. Is Nifong at all concerned with the stunning statistical disparity between Gottlieb's arrest record and that of the other three District 2 supervisors?
For Duke:
  1. When the Duke administration first learn of the statistical disparities revealed in the N&O article?
  2. If the administration knew of these figures before last week, why has Duke done nothing to address the problem?
  3. Is Duke concerned about either these statistics or Duke students' allegations of troubling behavior by Gottlieb?
  4. What actions does President Richard Brodhead plan to take in coming days to ensure that the Durham Police are not unfairly targeting Duke students?
  5. What assurances, if any, can Brodhead give current or future Duke parents that their children will not experience the kind of treatment that Gottlieb provided Duke students in the months before March 2006?
This case too often has lacked reporters willing to ask the hard questions of people in authority. I hope they reverse this pattern, and make Nifong and Brodhead address the findings of the N&O and the Chronicle.


Anonymous said...

KC - John Burness needs to read "Nifong, Duke, and Gottlieb" Read his comments in the Herald Sun:


Duke spokesman John Burness said the university had been aware of the Durham Police Department's zero-tolerance policy, and said administrators would be concerned if there was evidence Gottlieb "was being disproportionate."

"It'd be a matter for the police and the city manager to look at now that it's been brought to their attention, to see if there are patterns that are inappropriate," Burness said. "If there are, we assume they'd take appropriate action."

Anonymous said...

That's hardly an appropriate response out of Burness. What he should have said is that I will discuss this with our general counsel's office to determine if the matter needs to be raised with the Durham city attorney for investigation of disparate police conduct. I have seen nothing out of Burness that inspires the slightest confidence.