Grassroots Commentary

North Carolina Police Department Falls

L.E. Brown · Jun. 1, 2015

Yet another local police department has fallen to President Barack Obama’s Justice Department.

(The federal takeover of the Cleveland, Ohio, police department was the subject of a May 28 column published by The Patriot Post.)

This case is in North Carolina, in Durham, the city that tobacco built and the home of a tobacco-built university whose basketball coach is the highest-paid public official in the state.

What makes the Durham case different from most of the other twenty-some investigations into the practices of local police forces the Justice Department has launched in the past five years, is that Durham officials asked, maybe begged is a better word, the federal government to come in and help them run their police department, whereas at least in some of the other twenty instances police departments didn’t exactly welcome federal intervention.

It’s almost as if the city’s governing body is telling the Justice Department: “Come on in, the police department is yours to run as you want.”

Not much has been said about the emotions of Cleveland government leaders as the successful takeover of its police department was effected.

But an article in the May 22 edition of the Raleigh, N.C. News & Observer seems to depict members of the Durham City Council as being euphoric, giddy even, over what the federals are promising, which includes an outside facilitator to develop the community-wide strategic plan and organization.

The takeover of the police department was, according to the newspaper article, preceded by an analysis of “crime and community attitudes toward police,” completed in April. Reportedly, in 2014 Mayor Bill Bell asked the center to look at the situation in Durham.

The analysis was done, according to the newspaper article, by Hildy Saizow and Scott Decker, employees of the U.S. Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center (OJPDC).

Among the amazing conclusions made by Saizow and Decker, if the newspaper article is to be believed, was that firearm homicides and aggravated assaults primarily happen in high-poverty areas with large minority populations in Durham.

Who would have thunk that?

Another amazing, nay, astounding, revelation laid bare by S and D, according to the newspaper article, is that residents of these areas complained that they are “targeted and ‘baited’ by police.”

Again, who would have thunk that citizens who live in an area of numerous killings and whippings, most probably black-on-black crimes, would be complaining about police tactics?

But I digress.

In a nutshell, it seems that Council members voted unanimously to “accept an offer of training and technical assistance” from the federal government. One has to think that, though, given the City Council’s eagerness to sell its soul, it expects some taxpayers’ money in the future, after it is first received in Washington and then parceled out to grateful voters.

Not only did the City Council produce a de facto  vote to turn things over to federal lawyers and bureaucrats, the council session during which the grand pact was approved produced remarks which may be of historic proportions.

Said Councilman Eddie Davis, according to the News & Observer: “The community has not always spoken and given their point of view, and it’s important to give them a platform to do so.”

While Councilman Davis’ remark will likely be remembered for ages, it might be eclipsed by those of Durham Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden, who famously advised that the city should engage teenagers on its Youth Commission, and stirringly added: “Kids are eager to give their suggestions.”

Echoing the “moving forward” theme of the 2012 Democratic Convention, originated previously by Obama and which is now commonly used in television newscasts and entertainment programs, Councilman Steve Schewel voiced aloud and without shame his hope that the Department of Justice can help city leaders better define community policing.

The concept of community policing was introduced by progressives back in the 20th Century. Wonder why a government leader in an intellectual-centered city like Durham still doesn’t know its definition?

Councilman Davis invited his colleagues to meet with him June 3 to plan a series of “community conversations” on police-civilian relations.

No word on whether community organizer-in-chief Barack Obama will be present.

While that is perhaps too much to expect, it is possible that Obama will send one of his police-expert lieutenants, or that newly-retired comedian (sic) David Letterman will visit and help with the cause, perhaps as a prelude to a new career.

L.E. Brown, Jr. is a columnist based in Magnolia, N.C. Contact him at [email protected]

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