Police continue to investigate possible racism

November 12, 2008 4:21:05 PM PST
Several Durham Police officers are under investigation for allegedly posting racial remarks on their personal websites.Durham's Police Chief B.J. Council says the incident was brought to his attention by an officer on the force. When police officers wear the badge Council says they take an oath.

So when racially offensive remarks were allegedly found on the MySpace pages belonging to several Durham officers, it sparked an internal probe.

"Anytime an officer whether on or off duty into the trust of the community so we want to take a look at it to make sure it's not true," Council said.

Sources say the websites in question also featured photos of the officers in uniform. Exactly what was written is unclear.

When Eyewitness News tried to log onto one site, it was marked private and the owner had logged in today.

"This is really an embarrassment to Durham," Durham City Council Eugene Brown said.

City leaders are waiting for the outcome of the investigation and expressing outrage after learning about the alleged incident through the news media.

"You do not wear the uniform of the Durham Police Department in public then in private articulate via the internet or website such racist views," Brown said.

"As public officials ? we don't really have much of private life so any connotation that this was their personal right or first amendment right to do something like this I don't agree with that," City Manager Tom Bonfield said.

Durham's Police Chief Jose Lopez says the investigation started last week, after a concerned officer came forward. But Lopez says he cannot confirm whether the remarks were racially charged because of the pending investigation.

But if the officers are found in violation of the department's code of conduct, their private lives could become a public problem.

Eyewitness News asked about the status of the officers under review and because it's a personnel matter, the department says they cannot comment on whether they are still working or on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.


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