Turmoil inside Durham Police Department?

Durham Police Department

February 3, 2010 2:42:55 PM PST
Their mission is to protect and to serve, but lately some Durham officers are accused of bending the rules they're supposed to follow.Last Friday, Officer Stephen Commander was booked on breaking and entering and extortion.

He threatened a couple at a mobile home in Wake County last November according to an arrest warrant.

Click here to listen to the 911 call.

Commander told the alleged victims if they didn't reveal the whereabouts of a person he was looking for the man would "be dead by the end of the day."

"We need to stop this, it's embarrassing everyone in the city of Durham," Durham City Council Eugene Brown said.

Councilman Eugene Brown says he sees a cause for concern especially considering the recent scandals - overtime abuse that cost an officer and a deputy chief their jobs, another charged with DWI, because his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. And just last week, a federal indictment against an officer accused of selling drugs out of his squad car, according to ABC11 Eyewitness News sources.

Brown says it's time to take action.

"I hope very soon that the manager would meet with Chief Lopez to discuss what can and should be done," he said.

Durham's police chief is defending his department saying in a statement to ABC11 that:

      As Chief of Police for the City of Durham, I am deeply disappointed in the recent arrests of Officer Stephen Commander and former officer Sherrod Peace. These arrests are in no way reflective of our officers who work hard and serve our community every day.

      I understand that alleged misconduct on the part of law enforcement officers can damage public trust. That is why the Durham Police Department takes allegations such as these so seriously.

      Our officers undergo ethics training as rookies and during yearly in-service training classes. Officers are held to a higher standard and I expect them to live up to their oaths of office and serve and protect the community. Our officers are expected to know the department's general orders and abide by them on and off duty. The general orders include sections on ethics, legal issues and professional behavior.

      All allegations of police misconduct are investigated thoroughly by our Professional Standards Division. Any allegations of criminal misconduct are also investigated by our Criminal Investigations Division.

      In these recent cases, please keep in mind the officers are entitled to due process and the cases are still under investigation and nothing has yet been adjudicated.

      I want the community to rest assured that the Durham Police Department is committed to providing the best service possible with professionalism, integrity, pride and dedication to the community. These are the attributes that define our department, our officers and our profession.

Durham's police department is hailed as one of the best in the nation, often earning high honors for training.

But the recent scandals, some say, overshadow the accomplishments of the officers who are keeping their oath and enforcing the law.

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