Any effective whitewash requires a large amount of white paint—which the CALEA reaccreditation report for the Durham Police Department has provided in abundance.
A three-person team led by Chief Roy Liddicott, who oversees the force at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, produced a report that sometimes read as if written by the Durham Visitors’ Bureau. Portraying the DPD as an innocent victim of the lacrosse case, the accreditors concluded that the department “is a credit to our profession and a definite asset to the City of Durham.”
The report did note that the department “recently took some undue criticism for the Duke Lacrosse team rape investigation outcome.” [emphasis added] How, exactly, did the CALEA team reach this conclusion? Remarkably, Liddicott and his colleagues cited the Attorney General’s report, which laid out how the DPD had a role in obtaining charges for a crime that never occurred against three demonstrably innocent people. According to the CALEA staff, however, this report was “expected to validate the police department’s involvement and speak favorable [sic] of its actions.”
Steve Mitchell, the CALEA program manager for the Durham team, informed me that the accreditors did, in fact, read the Attorney General’s final report, despite the awkward wording of the clause quoted above. (Mitchell added that the CALEA accreditors did not read any of the depositions produced during the Nifong disciplinary hearing, even though those depositions were available before the report was made public.) Chief Liddicott did not respond to a request asking how he concluded that Cooper’s report validated the DPD’s performance.
Both CALEA and DPD representatives conceded that the department’s image had suffered some blows over the past 16 months. Who was to blame for this development? The media(!). (If only all reporters could be as gullible as Herald-Sun editor Bob Ashley . . . ) According to the report, the DPD “does everything it can to encourage good relations with the local media.”
As Liddicott, et al., explained,
The Durham Police Department also has a full time public relations manager (Ms. Kim Walker) who also assists with the media events from time to time. Ms. Walker was interviewed and she also mentioned the spotty relationship with the local media much of which she blames on the fall-out from the Duke Lacrosse Team rape case. The media is of the opinion that the agency has withheld information from them about this investigation, which is not accurate as they (Durham P.D.) are restricted from releasing certain information until the Attorney General releases its investigative report. Ms. Walker feels that when the agency is permitted to speak candidly about the case that its relationship with the media should improve drastically.
On April 27, the day after the AG’s office released its report, the N&O ran a highly critical—but also on-target—editorial about the DPD’s performance in the lacrosse case. The department’s response? Said spokesperson Kammie Michael, “The Police Department has no comment.” Apparently the DPD wasn’t too eager to “speak candidly about the case” after all.
What information was the DPD “restricted from releasing” before the AG’s report appeared? These items, alas, remain a mystery.
Other portions of the report seemed closer to fiction than a candid assessment of the police force everyone has seen in action over the past 17 months.
- “There was significant improvement in file maintenance during this assessment. It is quite evident that the principles of accreditation have become an agency culture and how they do business.”
This, about a department that, in the highest-profile case in its history, featured a sergeant who claimed to have kept contemporaneous notes on a dry-eraser board that he didn’t realize was being erased.
- “They are working hard to reestablish their standing in the community and are making great strides.”
This, about a department that, when given the opportunity to take a hard look at its performance in the case, instead produced the Baker/Chalmers report—which was so transparently a whitewash that it generated outraged reaction from every member but one of the City Council.
- “Their property and evidence control function is one of the best this team has seen and should be held up as a model for other agencies.”
This, about a department that “accidentally” destroyed incident tapes that defense attorneys had requested be preserved.
- “The agency is providing an exceptional level of service in all areas of law enforcement. They are staffed with totally professional individuals that are 100 percent committed to the mission of the agency and to doing their best for improving the quality of life for all residents of and visitors to Durham.”
This, about a department that admits to a “separate-but-equal” justice system in which some “visitors to Durham”—namely, Duke students—are punished differently for the same offenses than are full-time Durham residents.
- “The Durham Police Department is very committed to the ideals and principles related to Bias Based Profiling and as such, train all its personnel on this topic. They provided their lesson plan and a sign in sheet in the files as additional proof. They teach this at their recruit academy as well as during annual in-service training for existing officers.”
This, about a department one of whose officers (Gottlieb) told a Duke student and U.S. citizen of Serbian heritage, “Do you need to speak to your consulate? We can deport you.”
- “The Durham Police Department is committed to an ongoing and transparent relationship with the community.”
This, about a department whose acting public spokesperson, Cpl. David Addison, made repeated, false statements of fact to the community in March 2006, and then issued an inflammatory, guilt-presuming “Crimestoppers” announcement—actions that the department has refused to explain, despite repeated requests that it do so.
- “The Durham Police Department produces several in depth and detailed organizational charts annually, or as needed. These charts clearly delineate lines of authority and responsibilities. Chief Chalmers spoke during the compliance panel reviews about the agency’s policy as it relates to the description of the organization and the corresponding organizational charts. All the functions within the department are described as to what they do, whom they report to and what their goals are. All unity of command issues were clearly articulated.”
This, about a department that ceded authority eight days into an investigation to the district attorney, an action that violated each of these “detailed organizational charts.”
That decision, however, appears not to have troubled the Liddicott accrediting team. The report blandly noted that “the Durham Police Department works closely with the prosecuting attorney and keeps victims informed of the status of their cases.”
When asked about Nifong’s ordering the police to produce a lineup that violated their own procedures—and the police following the order—Liddicott “explained how a police department anywhere has a relationship with its prosecuting attorney’s office and they work together.” The department’s using this rigged lineup, according to Liddicott, did not reflect “negatively on the agency’s ability to meet the standards of accreditation.”
What did concern the accrediting team? Liddicott, et al., pointed out that “all officers are required to utilize seat belts while driving any police vehicle.”
They also rejoiced at how Durham, once known as the Bull City, “is now known as the ‘City of Medicine.’” They gushed that “CEO” Steven Chalmers had more than 30 years on the force, “with his true passion being Community Oriented Policing.” They reported that (unnamed) people from other local police forces called in to give such comments as, “I totally support their efforts”, “I recommend they be reaccredited”, “Top notch agency that works under difficult circumstances and does an outstanding job”, and “They have been through a lot and deserve a lot of praise.”
As virtually every defense attorney involved in the lacrosse case has noted, the DPD has many good officers--people who do their best under difficult conditions, uphold standard procedures, and attempt to treat all fairly. By asserting that the DPD is staffed by “totally professional individuals that are 100 percent committed to the mission of the agency,” Liddicott and his colleagues tarred all of the force’s good officers with the brush of Gottlieb, Addison, and (the perpetually absent) Chalmers.
“After the exit interview,” Liddicott wrote, “the team was driven to the Raleigh/Durham International Airport by Sgt. Shelton for our departing flights.” Liddicott didn’t say whether the team chatted with Shelton about how Linwood Wilson investigated him after the sergeant, despite peer pressure, held to his—correct—opinion that Crystal Mangum was a liar.
But we can be sure that Shelton was wearing his seat belt.