In 2004, the Durham Police Department adopted a new promotion policy. The former policy, according to a department document, “heavily emphasized national criteria and an officer’s knowledge of national standards and practices.”
As we have seen over the last eight months, these qualities appear to be in rare supply among members of the
The new criteria were developed through collaboration between the department and academics at—of course—
After eighteen(!) stagnant years on the force, Mark Gottlieb was twice promoted after adoption of the new personnel policy. In May 2005, he was promoted to sergeant. And, according to the Duff Wilson August article in the New York Times, in February 2006, he was promoted to “supervisor of investigations.”If the goal of the new personnel policy was to push people up through the ranks even if they had no demonstrable knowledge of national law enforcement criteria, standards, or practices, Gottlieb’s sudden burst of promotions would suggest the policy succeeded.
For those unfamiliar with its workings, the department’s website hosts an intricately designed flow chart outlining the chain of command as of January 2005. Officers in District 2 (which covers the area around Duke) report to Commander Ed Sarvis, who in turn reports to the Operations Bureau commander, who in turn reports to Chief Chalmers. All told, the flow chart documents the proper order of command for 42 positions throughout the force.
On March 24, a scarce eight days into the investigation, Gottlieb received an order “to continue with our investigation, but to go through Mr. Nifong for any directions as to how to conduct matters in this case.”
I looked in vain for the position of “district attorney” anywhere on the flow chart. (Nor did a slot exist for Liestoppers’ title for Nifong, “Inspecteur DA.”) Indeed, nothing on the chart suggests that officers are supposed to take orders from or report to the district attorney during an investigation.
The Police Department’s mission statement also makes for interesting reading.
One of the four central principles of the DPD is to “maintain human rights/equality.” It’s hard to see how this principle can be reconciled with the department’s “separate-but-equal” policy, in which Duke students do not receive the same procedures as those given to other Durham residents; and in which the department has an official policy of disproportionately meting out punishment to Duke students.
The mission statement describes a department “where the citizens we serve are treated with dignity and respect”; indeed, where everyone “is treated as we would want another police employee to treat one of our family members.” I wonder how many police employees would like to see one of their family members receive the same “treatment” as that given to the lacrosse players.
Chalmers, meanwhile, has assured the citizenry that “the Durham Police Department and its officers represent the best the law enforcement profession has to offer.” So, according to the chief, “the best the law enforcement profession has to offer” is one where police:
- did not immediately dispatch a unit to the scene of the alleged crime to secure it; and rouse a judge from sleep to obtain a search warrant;
- did not tape record their initial interview with the accuser, to avoid a debate over the wildly divergent descriptions she allegedly gave of suspects;
- allowed the accuser to wait until 23 days after the incident to give her statement;
- did not investigate the alibis of Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty—or even search suspects’ dorm rooms—before arresting them;
- did not re-interview before making arrests Kim Roberts, even though her statement contradicted that of the accuser in virtually every respect.
Despite Chalmers’ words, those deeds do not exactly inspire confidence.
The force just received an infusion of new blood: 12 people—11 men and one woman—graduated from the
Contrast the quality of the
An underlying current throughout this case has been a sense of class envy, especially from Gottlieb and Inv. Richard Clayton, a duo that seems to enjoy—and, in Gottlieb’s case at least, abuse—the power they hold over better-educated Duke students.
Since 1991, the department has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The next accreditation review is in 2007.
A recent report by Chalmers to the City Council explained that police headquarters building, which originally housed an insurance company, is “poorly designed for modern police operations.” (Perhaps this explains why the chief was so eager to abandon knowledge of modern national standards in personnel policy.)
Interested readers might want to e-mail CALEA to ask how the performance of the Durham Police could be considered worthy of continued accreditation.
Professionalism seems a flexible term for the DPD. The department website has a page touting the “Secondary Employment Program,” in which
When hired for the program, the officer functions as, essentially, a citizen’s own private police force, to “direct traffic and perform other duties related to his/her position as a LE officer” and “wear his/her full Police duty uniform with duty equipment (firearm, radio, etc).” On some occasions, the website states, the department might even toss in “a Police Department vehicle(!) . . . for the off-duty officer’s use.”
Call 919-560-4128 if you want to hire a Durham Police officer to bring the department’s values to your next event. Guests will be asked to check the Bill of Rights at the door.
The program promises that, by hiring an off-duty police officer, the citizen will receive a figure committed to enforcing “NC State Laws and Durham City Ordinances.” Except, I suppose, Durham General Order 4077. As we know, the department’s officers don’t consider it their duty to enforce that city policy.
According to Police Department statistics, there were 85 rape charges filed in 2005. Yet Nifong’s office reported disposing of less than half that total in the 2005-2006 fiscal year. This discrepancy suggests that many rape claims fell through the cracks.
But how could this occur? As the “minister of justice” informed the crowd at North Carolina Central, in
Could it be that Nifong selectively applies his unusual conception of how law enforcement evaluates the credibility of a rape accuser, based on how politically advantageous it is to go forward with the case?