Monday, December 04, 2006

Keystone Kops

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 Durham force, so it’s no wonder Chief Steven Chalmers wanted to abandon them.

The new criteria were developed through collaboration between the department and academics at—of course—North Carolina Central. The policy emphasizes “factors applicable to an officer’s professional experiences in Durham,” to include such inherently subjective measurements as an “officer’s policing philosophy” and “assessment center ratings.”

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 Durham Police Academy. A recommended “story angle” from the department press release? That 11 of the 12 new recruits have “some college credits.” (Three had graduated from college.)

Contrast the quality of the Durham recruits with those of the New York Police Department, where all recruits must have a minimum of 60 credits (equivalent of an associates’ degree); and a good portion are graduates of four-year colleges. The NYPD has aggressive compensation packages to encourage officers with A.A. degrees to complete their B.A. degrees, and those with B.A. degrees to obtain M.A. degrees, usually in criminal justice.

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 Durham citizens can hire (for $25 to $35/hour) off-duty Durham police officers, where they “can work to control crowds or traffic, prevent crime, or protect your business from robberies and shoplifting.”

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 Durham “anytime you have a victim who can identify her assailant, then what you have is a case that must go to the jury, which means, in this situation, a jury will get to evaluate the evidence.” [emphasis added]

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?


Anonymous said...

Chicago writes:

My favorite story involving the Durham Police was when I had a speeding ticket for being 10 over on the Durham Freeway. It was in an area right by the ballpark where the limit goes from 65 to 55. The speed limit sign was completely obstructed by tree branches. The following day I went back to the spot of the ticket to take photographs of the obstructed sign. I presented those pictures in court a month later. However, when I got to court I realized the judge was blind. I am not using that term like one would use to say a ref who blew a call "is blind." I mean literally, he was completely blind and walked with a walking stick. As a result, he could not see the pictures of the blocked sign, and I was found guilty. As Nifong says "Only in Durham." Ironically, this was in 2004, at which time, the Head Traffic Prosecutor was none other than the Minister of Justice himself, Mike Nifong. This is a completely true story.

Anonymous said...

This is only an anecdote, but a very telling one. Durham might be a mid-sized city, but it is a true legal backwater.

No doubt, having a blind judge satisfied the requirements of the U.S. Department of Justice, but it does not satisfy the requirements of justice itself.

Don't think that things will get better in Durham. The people there have spoken quite loudly. As one who grew up in the South, I have heard such things before -- from white racists who had control of the apparatus of government, and so could impose whatever they wanted upon others.

While the false charges against the Duke 3 are not as spectacular as the infamous 1964 Philadelphia, Mississippi, murders, they are in the same category in that the people of that locality fully support false charges and rogue police.

Michael Nifong knows this, and that is why he is perfect for a place like Durham, which is a repository for dishonest people.

Anonymous said...

While the Durham police might be dishonest and incompetent, they also are good at intimidating people. The Elmostafa arrest and prosecution is one important example.

Also, from what I remember, someone from the Platinum Club was going to be interviewed on television. However, she backed out at the last second.

I can only wonder if police intimidation was a factor, or is the black community in Durham engaging in such? Will jurors face similar intimidation? Obviously, police would know names and addresses, and I wonder if the police in Durham would make sure that anyone on a jury is going to be subject to police harassment or worse unless that person votes guilty.

Some people might write off these comments, but I believe that the police and prosecution in Durham are capable of just about anything. It already is obvious that they are above the law and can do whatever they wish, so it does not take a leap of logic to say that they would tamper with the jury.

This is another reason why, if there is a trial, it CANNOT be held in Durham. Cash Michaels may declare that Durham is not hopelessly racist, but the facts tell me a much different story.

Anonymous said...

There were 85 rape charges filed in Durham in 2005--how many were "date rapes" and how many were "stranger rapes"? How many of the rapes in each category were allegedly committed by college students? I am curious about this statistic, because Nifong and the Durham PD have made it seem like Duke students are a menace to the community, when it is my understanding that Duke students are regularly the _victims_ of crime in Durham. How many Duke students were mugged in Durham in 2005, and how many arrests did the PD make in those cases?

Anonymous said...

Do the statistics include rapes that are reported on campus (i.e. accused and accuser = students) or are these investigated by only Duke PD?

kcjohnson9 said...

Stats include cases filed with the Durham PD.

Some on-campus incidents involving only Duke students might not be filed with DPD.

Anonymous said...

I was not referring to on-campus crimes against/by Duke students, but those that happened on the streets of Durham. How many Duke students committed muggings, robberies, or rapes in Durham (not on campus) in 2005? How many Duke students _were_ mugged, robbed, or raped in Durham (not on campus) in 2005? I'm sure this statistic would be difficult to find--Duke doesn't exactly want to broadcast this kind of thing--but it does interest me.

Anonymous said...

Bill A,

there's no such thing as reverse jury nullification: u either nullify, or u don't

Anonymous said...

Message to the 3's attorneys:

Stupid idea to put them on "60 Minutes": these guys are not likable, and Collin Finnerty, while not a gay-basher, looks capable of same

do not let any of them give any more interviews: the "idea" of their victimization is more powerful than the "sight" of the victims

after i saw the "60" interview, got the impression they were more concerned about their jobs than what happened to them

boy oh boy: who prepared them?


Anonymous said...


Interesting older H-S article by Hunter Lewis was posted by LTC8K6 on LieStoppers:

Mar 16, 2004 : 7:30 pm ET / Plea-driven system dismisses half of felony cases

Even has a few quotes from 'Chief Assistant District Attorney' Mike Nifong.

"The stats certainly don't reflect well on anyone involved in the system," Nifong conceded. "[But] our intent is to do justice as good (sic - ouch!! :) as possible rather than make the statistics a priority. They're not a priority."

Apologies if you've already seen this, or horror of horrors, you linked it in the current blog entry! One of the frustrating 'features' of blogspot is how the links disappear after you've visited the page.

Anonymous said...


Wierd. I had the opposite impression of the guys on 60 Minutes. I was impressed by their sincerity and composure. Collin was less self assured, but he's only 19 or 20 for chrissakes.

Anonymous said...

To 11:10 AM:

Actually those interviews scared the crap out of the DA and his enablers. Look how quickly the H-S started to try to downplay and spin the program. All of a sudden, Ed Bradley became a "Tom" to many. All three of the accused came across as very believable and sincere. Young men caught up in something not of their doing and unable to understand how that could happen in our system of justice.

I believe the interviews were powerful and opened a lot of eyes that previously did not care that a hoax was being conducted in Durham, NC. A lot of previously uninterested people began to think: But for the grace of God there goes I or my children.

Anonymous said...

was i the only person who noticed that bradley refused to address the black affirmative action contingent at duke?

he downplayed the racial aspect--he, like most mainstream reporters, is PC

Anonymous said...

Everyone I spoke with--including many who had little knowledge of the facts of the case, thought the boys came across as very sincere and very likeable. It's extremely hard to be articulate and composed with dozens of bright lights and cameras in your face. They all did a GREAT job--the 11:10 poster can't possibly be serious.

Anonymous said...

I saw the interview, and I agree that the 3 came across as more distredded about their job prospects than the immorality of nifong, et al's "techniques"

I'd really like to see Precious interviewed. I hear she's an honor student, so I'd be all ears for her insight into the case

Anonymous said...

African American Studies has recently been made a full academic department by Duke

how funny is that?

when will the extortion stop?

shouldn't "black studies" be taught at inner-city community colleges, or over the internet?

Anonymous said...

1) AAAS is taught at virtually every university in America these days. if you don't teach it, you better believe you will be blasted by every liberal group around, as well as some not-so-liberal groups. believe me, there are other even more questionable majors at every college in the country.

2) Only one of the three boys was supposed to even be working--the others had two years of college left, so I don't possibly see how they could have come across as more interested in their job prospects (and I didn't get that sense at all.) Plus, by the way, they were responding to questions about their FUTURE from Ed Bradley. AND, if you were Dave Evans, and had graduated but had had your job offer rescinded, wouldn't YOU be concerned about your job prospects????

Anonymous said...

true, universities should teach the works of geniuses

most blacks who are labeled "genius" rarely are:

Toni Morrison; Spike Lee; Maya Angelou; Diddy; Oprah; and the rest

most important aspect of black studies is overrating black accomplishment: they refer to jazz as "black classical"--the most talented jazz artist was duke ellington, who was not in george gershwin's league, who certainly wasn't in stravinsky's league

when r the feckless runts gonna put an end to all this crap?

Anonymous said...

The defendants came across to me as honest, ernest, intelligent and clean cut. They focused on the questions Ed Bradley asked them and answered them well. I am sure Ed Bradley probably realized that questions concerning their feelings for the DA were not appropriate for the show. He let the legal expert, James Coleman, who Mr. Nifong presumably can't touch, do the work of highlighting Mr. Nifong's transgressions. Makes sense to me.


Anonymous said...

To 11:10am YOu are the exact type of person that scares me the most. You do not use your mind at all. You are not at all how the general population thinks. Did you not see the polling statistics? YOu only see color. How sad for you.

Anonymous said...

To 2:12,
Are you kidding? I am all for a Core Curriculum that gives everyone a good grounding in Western Civilization. But I suspect there is plenty to write, learn, talk about in the AAAS department. Toni Morrison's work is absolutely worthy of our attentiom. She has well earned her accolades. Oprah is excellent in her field--do you really think she's on the syllabus? But what is the point of your list? We have Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, why not African Studies? This is a culture that is part of our world after all.


Anonymous said...

ob, on deadline--giv me 3 hrs

Anonymous said...

A blind judge? Unbelievable. I thought justice was supposed to be blind, not actual judges. Durham continues to amaze me.

As to the 60 Minutes interviews, I thought the guys came across as sincere and genuinely upset and confused by what was happening to them.

Anonymous said...

Chicago, Things haven't change much in 30 years, me and a few Marines were heading back to Camp Lejuene, NC. We were on a road speed limit 55, we came to a town speed limit 25. Just as we passed the first 25MPH sign we were pulled over for doing 50 in a 25. The officer dragged us before a judge at 2AM. The judge asked us how much money we had, we came up with about 40 dollars and quess what that was the fine if we plead guilty. I asked the judge what if we wanted to contest the ticket, he stated that we would have to post a $500.00 bond or wait in jail until our court date. So we paid the fine, I thought that in 30 year NC would have change, but apparently not.

Anonymous said...

The DPD are jealous of the socio-economic position the students at Duke are in. They are in particularly jealous of male athletes from where they are lacking in that experience of team sports. They take this jealousy and hate out on innocent Duke students. Not very bright.

Anonymous said...

to 11:10, duke09parent, I concur with you on your comment. We need to ask the 11:10 poster if he knows the AV. I haven't heard her make any statement.

Anonymous said...

precious and i r going out for some ice cream--i luv her--she's cute, trustworthy, and, most importantly, an honors student--who needs your wealthy socioeconomic evironment--precious and i have something much more dear, ain't that right precious?

re black studies: suggest u read charles murray's "human accomplishment," and then answer your own question

Anonymous said...

To 5:06--I don't think we can speculate on the motives of the DPD, or paint them with a broad brush. I am sure some of them are athletes, so your comment that they are jealous of the Duke athletes doesn't make sense to me. It could just be that some of them are tired of being called night after night to deal with noise and drinking complaints in the TP neighborhood, and as a result come to dislike Duke students in general. Also, while we know that the DPD had a prejudicial policy against Duke students, we also know that the arrests of Duke students were done primarily by one particular officer (Gottlieb) so not even all the members of the DPD participated in the differential treament policy. As far as the rape hoax--they may just have been following Nifong's orders!

Anonymous said...

hey precious, call me baby

you both hot and smart

Anonymous said...

To 1:23 PM -- The "black affirmative action contingent" is not one of the most important factors in this case. If Bradley had had to work that into the story to satisfy you, he might not even have finished the report before he died.

Rather than accuse Bradley of being PC because of his handling of the story on "60 Minutes," I would note that Bradley's interviews with Kim and Jim Coleman were intended to show the misconduct by the DA's office and call the alleged victim's story into question.

Since Kim and Jim Coleman are black, and Bradley is black too and indicated that he doubted that a rape occurred, Bradley's report actually served to help defuse the racial aspects of this case. It showed that just because someone is black doesn't mean that they have to believe the alleged victim, and supporting the defendants doesn't make someone a white racist. If Bradley were truly PC he would have come up with a report glorifying Nifong and the alleged victim and trashing the lacrosse players. Instead, he did the opposite, and I think that we should be grateful that he chose to spend some of the last weeks of his life on this story.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the 6:35 poster. My understanding of the situation is that the DPD’s makeup is far from uniform. There are many honest, dedicated, highly professional police officers on the force. These officers do not necessarily approve of the Jurassic era style of law enforcement represented by bulls such as Gottlieb. They do not want to be involved in the Duke rape hoax either. Look at the report of Sgt. Shelton, the first responder. It certainly does not paint a flattering portrait of the alleged victim and, indeed, indicates skepticism about her claims. Officers in Durham tend to identify with one pole or the other. Guess which type of law enforcement the Duke administration has endorsed for its students and the people of Durham.

Anonymous said...

9:25:I hope you're 1 of the 3's attorneys, because that's exactly how I read the case.

Well done.

Jim Clyne

Anonymous said...

KC, the 9:25 comment is the most significant to date on this site. IT'S IMPORTANT! Can some of its allegations be verified, eg, dishonorable discharge?

It should also be the lead post tomorrow, imo.

Anonymous said...

I concur with the above poster. That post was credible and explosive.

Bye bye Mickey

Theresa Chaze said...

Police Abuse:
Holding the Police Responsible for Their Actions
Theresa Chaze

The police are no longer harbingers of service and protection, but are a power driven force whose purpose is to intimate and humiliate the masses. Instead of good will and support, they are breeding resentment and anger in those they swore to protect. Increasingly civil rights are being whittled away and totally ignored by the police. They claim their actions are justified in the name of self-defense. It calls into question what came first, the attacks on the police or the brutality against the public? Yet the individual officers are not civilly or criminally held responsible for their actions. They can’t be sued by individuals they have been wrong and rarely are they prosecuted. Instead, the cities, counties and states are financially bearing the brunt of their ego driven rampages, which have caused great harm and sometimes death to individuals. This needs to change. Officers need to be held responsible for when they have crossed the line.
In every state of the union, here are examples of officers brutalizing the public but not being held responsible for their actions. The most recent and widely publicized event happened in New York City. Unarmed Sean Bell and two of his companions were leaving his bachelor party when the police turned a minor traffic accident into a shooting gallery. At least fifty shots were fired by five police officers into the car the three men occupied. Their vehicle was stuck by 21 bullets; Mr. Bell was killed and his companions severely wounded. But they were not the only victims. A neighborhood man had not only his car damaged by three bullets, but a fourth ripped through his front window, breaking a lamp in his living room. Two Port Authority Police Officers were injured by flying glass when a bullet shattered a window at the nearby AirTrain facility. All five officers involved have been put on paid administrative leave. Their names have been withheld as well as have any further details of the shooting. A Grand Jury will be convened to investigated the circumstances of the shootings; but like Patrick Dorismond and Amadou Diallo, can the Bell family expect justice from a system that as given free reign to officers to do as they will without consequences.
Doing a Google search on “police abuse of power” brings up over seven million entries. From the Iran-American, Mostafa Tabatabainejad who was tasered by the UCLA police officers for now showing proper ID in the university library to the harassment WFOS TV-CBS reporter Mike Kirsch, who investigated the abuse of citizens who attempted to make complaints against officers, it quite apparent that law enforcement officers are out of control. In spite of witnesses and video evidence, the legal system continues to protect its own by persecuting innocent citizens. There were students in the library that used their cells to document the abuse of Mr. Tabatabainejad. On such video is at; be warned that it is very graphic. In Kirsch’s case, the Broward County Police Benevolent Association initiated a BOLO, giving out Kirsch personal information including phone number, license numbers and address to officers on a special alert. BOLO stands for “be on the look out.” This section is normally reserved for fugitives from justice and missing persons. Although the listing was temporarily withdrawn, it was back on the site March 17, along with the address and mobile phone number of Gregory Slate, one of the Police Complaint Center's volunteers.
With all the coverage, the abuse isn’t a secret. What is as easily apparent is what is being done. It is foolish for a complaint to have to go to the department that abused her or him to make complaint and expect that justice be done. But that is how the system is now set up. There are very few associations, which have the ability to effectively police the police. In many states, the Attorney General cannot get involved until after the local complaints have been filed, which means if the complaints are not accepted or denied, nothing will be done. Each state and county needs to have an independent association that the pubic can file complaints where they will be seriously investigated without complaint being harassed or intimated. There is a national database where complaints can be registered at This site has links to the FBI and Department of Justice tasks forces as well as to a civilian compliant center and the ACLU. It is a good resource, but none of them will prevent the abuse. The only way is insure the officers have personal as well as profession consequences. They can held responsible economically and legally for their actions. The only way this will be possible is for the public to step. As with the students who used their cell phones to document, the public needs to speak out not only on the local level but also on the state. They need to report abuses to the Attorney General of their state and not allow the office to hide behind protocol. Writing letters to the editor, giving details of the abuse will also force the police to obey the civil rights laws. Don’t be afraid to speak up for others; you never know when you will be the one who needs a witness. The more who speak out, the more power the public has to protect itself against police intimation and harassment. Legislation needs to be passed that allows individuals to sue officers. In addition, officers, who are accused of a crime, cannot be investigated by their own department, but by the next level in the chain of command.
Lastly know what your rights and responsibilities are. The ACLU ( has a list of what to do and not to do when approached by the police. It gives simple specific instructions what your rights are. Knowing what do to, will help you protect yourself and your loved ones.

Theresa Chaze leads her readers to magical realms and others worlds. Her work is based on her philosophy that all peoples can live together in peace as long as we come from respect, not only for ourselves but those who follow different paths or beliefs. Her work has been compared to Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey with an adult version of Harry Potter mixed in. Theresa Chaze's major works so far include the first two novels of the Dragon Clan Trilogy and a free fantasy ebook called, Sisters, Mother, Daughters. Her screenplay, Never Can Say Good-bye, is one of the 2006 winners of the Gloria Film Festival. She publishes an ezine called, Messages From the Universe, which is available on her site

Anonymous said...

9:25, your post was sick. no woman enjoys a pelvic exam. it is unconfortable and invasive as hell as they scrape and poke you. This is some racist bullshit you have posted with sterotypes about black women being hypersexual(I had four orgasms just waiting... they examined my p--sy andI enjoyed that a lot and the comments about nifong and his sexual equipment, etc) and was out of line. but why should i be surprised? you are writing to defend some young perverts that raped and assaulted a woman and wrote a email about killing and stripping her later and ejaculating in their team spandex so i guess it is consistent with the duke lax mindset and as such it is truly sickening and insensitive. but that is ok, the day of reckoning is coming and their violent and misogynist ways are going to be exposed for the entire world and i for one will be laughing my ass off when they go to central prison and find out about the joys of sodomy first hand.

Anonymous said...

kc - please delete the above trash.