Group takes issue with Durham police's crime approach


They say campaigns like "Operation Bull's Eye" can lead to racial profiling. It's something they are asking the city to change along with a list of recommendations sparked by an officer involved shooting and an alleged comment about a Durham attorney wounded in a drive-by.

"It's not a question of whether it exists," said Nia Wilson, of FADE (Fostering Alternative Drug Enforcement ). "It's a question of what we're going to do about it."

As a member of a Durham activist group that focuses on alternative drug enforcement, Wilson is hoping the new list of recommendations given to Durham city leaders and the police chief will put an end to what some consider racial profiling in the Bull City.

"What it feels like again to be someone who just wants to be in your neighborhood, who is being targeted approached and searched on a regular basis," said Wilson.

It includes solutions like requiring Durham police officers to get a driver's signature before searching their vehicle. The group alleges the city is boosting its drug arrest numbers by focusing on marijuana users. They're recommending a new civil citation program instead of low-level marijuana arrests.

In addition to racial equality training for city leaders and officers, the group is calling for a task force to investigate the board that reviews citizen complaints against Durham police.

"We have faith that Durham actually can and will do this," said Wilson.

Wilson says the changes are critical for citizens living in some of the communities targeted in law enforcement campaigns like Operation Bull's Eye.

While police say crime is down, Wilson says the story of an innocent teenager resonates with her.

"He took his sister to the park to play and he was approached," said Wilson. "He was stopped and he was searched by police officers right there in the park in front of his sister. This young man lives in that neighborhood that we're saying is the bull's eye area."

The group says the Durham Human Relations Commission appears to be taking their concerns and their recommendations seriously.

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