The Durham Civilian Police Review Board met on Monday to finalize its recommendations to City Council.

Notably, the board did not advance expanding its own authority to conduct investigations of complaints, opting to sustain a lighter oversight policy that some residents have called toothless. The board’s current practice is to scrutinize the detectives who run the police department’s Internal Affairs Unit, rather than investigate complaints directly. The Durham Human Relations Commission is currently debating whether to make its own recommendation to City Council to endow the board with investigative power.

The board will send the following recommendations to City Council as early as this week, said Chairman DeWarren K. Langley. The language is being reviewed by board members and is subject to minor tweaks. Check for updates.

Complaint Process:

• The complaint form should be available both online and on paper. It should not require the complainant to list an occupation or work number. The form should be more available to the public. For example, decals on the back of patrol cars could instruct citizens to contact Durham OneCall with concerns about police services.

• The most recent general orders, policies and procedures of the police department should be accessible online.

• The Professional Standards Division should notify complainants by letter when it receives their complaint. The division should explain the investigative process and give the complainants an estimated time they can expect a response. In addition, the letter should include contact information for a point person from the Professional Standards Division.

• When the Professional Standards Division issues its determinations to the complainant, the letter should provide some detail of the facts of the case, the six levels of discipline for a City of Durham employee and whether or not the officer was disciplined. The letter should note that the specific discipline cannot be disclosed due to the Personnel Privacy Act.

• The complainant should have 30 days from receiving the letter from professional standards to file a request for an appeal.

Other Recommendations:

• Receive quarterly Performance Reviews Reports from the Professional Standards Division of the Durham Police Department

• The Civilian Police Review Board’s Annual Report should be posted on the City Manager’s website.

• Develop a brochure about the complaint process and the board

• Host one community forum per year

• Be available to present information on complaint process and CPRB to Partners Against Crime organization and other interested community, civic and neighborhood groups John H. Tucker

Durham PACs issue endorsements

The Durham People’s Alliance, a progressive political action committee, has endorsed Mike Lee, Sendolo Diaminah, Matt Sears and Natalie Beyer for the four school board seats. The PA also endorsed current county sheriff Mike Andrews and three judge candidates: Pat Evans, Doretta Walker and Nancy Gordon.

Also getting the PA’s endorsement is Roger Echols. He is running for district attorney to replace current DA Leon Stanback, who is not running for election. Stanback was appointed to the position by former Gov. Beverly Perdue after the ouster of Tracey Cline.

The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People also announced its list of endorsements for the May 6 primary.

For sheriff, the committee endorsed Clarence Birkhead. The former Hillsborough Chief of Police, Birkhead resigned from the post in 2010 after an investigation showed accreditation documents had been backdated to show they had been completed on time. Birkhead, who knew of the practice, denied any wrongdoing, but then resigned to run for Orange County Sheriff. He’s since moved to Durham.

In judicial races, the committee endorsed Echols for Durham District Attorney and Fred Battaglia for District Court Judge.

For Durham school board, Lee (District 1), Donald Hughes (District 2) and Deborah Bryson (District 3) received the committee’s endorsement, as did Beyer, who is running unopposed in District 4 Lisa Sorg

The INDY‘s endorsements issue is April 23. Early voting begins April 24.

This article appeared in print with the headline “Powers that be”