DPD investigating possible department racism

November 12, 2008 4:19:39 AM PST
The Durham Police Department is investigating whether its own officers posted racially charged remarks about President Elect Barack Obama.Eyewitness News has learned internal affairs has been investigating the allegations for a few days now, but Durham Police didn't tell city leaders about the accusations until Eyewitness News started asking questions.

"This is something that you don't sweep under the rug," Durham City Council Eugene Brown said.

Brown is mad Durham Police did not alert leaders to the allegations, but is more disgusted by the allegations themselves.

"This is really an embarrassment to Durham," Brown said. "It's demoralizing to our very fine police department and it will not, repeat, will not be tolerated."

What won't be tolerated if found true --racially charged remarks about President Elect Barack Obama posted allegedly on two Durham Police officers' MySpace pages shortly after the election.

Durham Police would not tell what Eyewitness News or city leaders what the alleged remarks were.

When Eyewitness News asked Durham Police officials about the allegations all their spokesperson would say is "We are aware of allegations and our Professional Standards Division is looking into them."

They then called City Manager Tom Bonfield.

"Any racially charged statement made by a city employee is taken very seriously and will be dealt with in the most severe manner possible as far as I'm concerned because it's totally inappropriate if it's true," Bonfield said.

Inappropriate they say in a city that just publically celebrated the election of Obama to the white house with 75 percent of the Durham County vote.

And that just this summer celebrated its civil rights history - the royal seven who sat down in the white only section of Durham's royal ice cream parlor.

"I grew up in Durham and I recall when we had an all white police force and all of these days are over folks so rest assured if this is true I will do everything in my power that this officer and these officers will not wear the uniform of the Durham Police Department," Brown said.

Both the city manager and Councilman Brown say they expect critics to point out that if true, the remarks were made on the officers' private website.

Both say when you serve the public; you don't have a private life.

They expect more information from Chief Jose Lopez once he returns from a conference on the west coast later this week.


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