Deputy's gang war comments draw heat

January 27, 2011 5:58:33 PM PST
In comments made to a newspaper, a high ranking official with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office expressed concern about a potential feud between black and Latino gang members in Durham.

Major Paul Martin’s statements were published in the Durham Herald-Sun.

The newspaper cited him as saying, “The immediate future holds the potential for an ethnic war to break out between black and Latino gangs.” He was also quoted as saying, “the middle- and upper-class will flee, first to gated communities and then to other counties.”

Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill said Martin may have been a little too aggressive with his comments but said, “I don’t fault him of his opinion, because he’s an experienced law enforcement officer. He’s very aggressive about dealing with crime.”

Some people in Durham thought the comments went too far. Bill Kalkhof of Downtown Durham, Inc., said, “It was just so over the top, his comments and… you know, ethnic war? Where are the facts behind a comment like that?”

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said he had no information to indicate there is any major dispute between any organized black and Latino gangs in the city.

Sheriff Hill said he would not discipline Martin, and that he believed Martin was just putting out the alert to the public.

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