Matt Dees reports on the expectation for tonight's meeting in an article for The Durham News:
Council to press for answers in lacrosse caseConcerned triangle residents are encouraged to attend tonights meeting. For additional information, please visit the LS Forum.
Decision on outside probe of police department's role may come on Monday
Will the city commission an independent study of the police department's handling of the Duke lacrosse case?
Will Chief Steven Chalmers, who has yet to speak publicly about the case, be called to answer questions from City Council members?
Will the council formally call for District Attorney Mike Nifong to resign?
These questions likely will get asked and perhaps answered at Monday's City Council meeting, 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Many council members have expressed disappointment in Chalmers' report, released May 11.
"There's less here than meets the eye," council member Eugene Brown said.
City leaders said the report didn't adequately explain what role Nifong played in the investigation, whether he had his hands too firmly on the controls of a case that has derailed so spectacularly in front of a national audience.
Council members say they want clarity, which is why many say they support an independent probe. How to go about it will be a key topic of conversation Monday night.
Mayor Bill Bell, immediately after the report was released, called attorney general Cooper and asked for a third-party review by the State Bureau of Investigation.
Earlier this week Cooper rebuffed the request, saying the SBI gets involved only in criminal investigations. But Cooper offered to have the SBI recommend a slate of legal experts the city could hire to review the case.
Bell said he would prefer to avoid a city-funded study, because that might leave the impression the city was merely paying for a whitewash. But he said it will help that the SBI will recommend experts.
"I think that at least removes one of the concerns I have, that it looks like the council is creating its own committee," Bell said.
Councilman Thomas Stith, though, said the city shouldn't need another report to make clear the police department erred. He doesn't support an independent review.
"At some point we have to accept responsibility," he said. "The council needs to show leadership now and say, 'Yeah we made mistakes, the department deviated from procedures and gave too much deference to a rogue prosecutor.' "
Stith said he also will call for his colleagues to join him in asking for Nifong to resign.
Several council members were asked whether it is acceptable for Chalmers to avoid answering any questions in a public forum.
"I would suggest that it is unusual for a chief not to respond in such a public and national case," Brown said, though he was unsure about the suggestion that Chalmers come before the council to answer questions.
Stith said he wouldn't oppose that, but it would be city manager Baker's call.
"I would certainly support that idea, to provide an open forum in a council setting to have Q-and-A from the council," he said.