Friday, January 13, 2012

Opinions are flying

I do not make it a habit to post or comment on controversial pieces.  However, this
is important, and not widely known.  I'm a believer in the little person being able to
create change by means of a pen and paper or a telephone.  I plan on getting to work
right after I post this.  I don't believe the citizens of this city quite understand what
they are embarking on.  The Fayetteville Police Department works under the theory
of Problem Orientated Policing, defined here.  It involve a high police presence in
high crime areas.  

Published: 07:14 AM, Wed Jan 04, 2012
City Council wants moratorium
on police searches at traffic stop
By Andrew Barksdale
Most Fayetteville City Council members said Tuesday night they would like police officers to temporarily stop conducting consent searches (Yes, these means searches that the person could SAY NO TO) to restore the public's confidence in the force.
The council informally voted 9-1 to impose a four-month moratorium while an outside review into the Police Department's policies on searches, data collection and citizen complaints can be conducted.
Councilwoman Val Applewhite, who cast the only dissenting vote, said she was unhappy the last-minute proposal was not on Tuesday's agenda or first reviewed by city management before the meeting.
Mayor Tony Chavonne said the vote directs city management to review the proposal and address the issue - how police do searches at traffic stops when there is no probable cause - later this month for final adoption.
Councilman Jim Arp, who oversaw the drafting of the proposal and distributed it to council members Monday night, suggested that the moratorium begin Feb. 1.
"There's an ongoing perception that, I think, is damaging to our Police Department, and that is, for whatever reason, the way the people are being stopped for traffic stops is not consistent," Arp said.
Councilman D.J. Haire agreed.
"I don't think there is anything wrong just stepping back and taking a look," Haire said.
Police statistics over the past few years show that about 75 percent of all drivers stopped and searched are black. Police presented figures Tuesday covering August through November showing that 66 percent of consent searches involved black drivers.  (Samantha: I'd like to know how many of those searches produced nothing.  Because that would certainly indicate on Officer who might be motivated inappropriately).  
Divisive issue
The issue has polarized the City Council for most of last year and angered members of the Fayetteville Area Minority Lawyers Association and the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Police Chief Tom Bergamine, who has defended the use of consent searches as an investigative tool to seize illegal drugs or weapons, was candid when Applewhite asked him for his opinion of the moratorium proposal.
"This reaffirms my position that maybe my decision to retire is in the best interest of myself and the Fayetteville Police Department," he said.
Bergamine announced over the weekend his plans to retire July 1 after a 34-year career at the department. He was named police chief in 2007.  (Samantha: He made this statement long ago; if they would not allow Officers to perform CONSENT searches, then he would retire).
Bergamine said Arp's proposal says his department is guilty of racial profiling - a charge that he has publicly denied several times.
"It seems that the Police Department is not getting due process," Bergamine said of the proposal.
In October, the council unanimously voted for policy changes on the force that stopped short of prohibiting consent searches, which have been outlawed in some states. Key among the changes was a requirement that officers document at least one reason for asking for permission to search.
"I believe the collective will of the council has changed, sir," Chavonne said Tuesday night.
Closed session
In the middle of Tuesday's discussion, the council held a five-minute closed session to get advice from City Attorney Karen McDonald on the proposed moratorium.
Bergamine was scheduled Tuesday to update the council on October's directives when Arp proposed the moratorium.
City Manager Dale Iman told the mayor he should have been consulted about the proposal before Tuesday's meeting. Iman said he doesn't think four months is enough time to find a consultant to review the department.  (Samantha: This already been done, right after the racial profiling allegations arouse.  It was discovered that the FPD did not profile).  
Iman's comments elicited a terse rebuke from the mayor.
"Well, you need to answer your phones to begin with," Chavonne said, referring to Iman's vacation last week.
Chavonne said he and Arp first mentioned the idea to Iman in mid-December. Chavonne said Iman relayed the idea to Bergamine, who reiterated his objection and declined to offer any input on the proposal.
During a break in the meeting, Bergamine said he first learned of the moratorium idea "a few days ago." He announced his retirement to Iman and police staff in a memo dated Dec. 30.
Bergamine told the council members he would do whatever they ask of him regarding consent searches.
"We will not embarrass this city," he said.
Chavonne said a final vote on the matter could come either Monday or Jan. 23.

Staff writer Andrew Barksdale can be reached at or 486-3565.
Some of my fav responses:

This is the most ridiculously ludicrous idea I have ever heard.

All they have done is to stoke the flames of racial divide in this city and we will all rue the day

The All-American City is on the brink; it's self destructing in its own misery. I can't think of better time to get out; get out if you can.

 I don't care what color you are, if the police think you may be breaking the law, they should have to opportunity to take proactive, legal, measures to protect the society. That's why it's referred to as "proactive". I'm all for stopping a crime before it turns into a worse crime. Racism will always exist, sadly. But no group of people are all racists
Okay, as a Black Fayetteville resident, I’m all for the police using better judgment in conducting searches and all, but this is getting ridiculous. Completely stopping the police from doing their jobs is the epitome of stupidity.
Why don't we tie one hand behind their back and give them one bullet. Each race should not be compared to number of consents,stops or anything except number of crimes per that race.
Don't handcuff the Police if you have a problem
I have been working in the Criminal Justice system for almost 50 years and this is the dumbest, most stupid thing the council could ever do. I think the council believes that every citizen should be able to drive up to every street corner and buy illegal drugs from the local drug dealer??? Most drugs are found during vehicle searches.
The Fayetteville City Council needs to stay out of the Police Department's business. They know nothing about law enforcement! The next murder may have been prevented because of such a search! Let the police department do their core mission!
Now check out this site:

On a side note, there are douche bags in EVERY profession.  I"m going to stop now, before I can not stop.

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