Durham City Manager Patrick Baker's year long search for a new Police Chief to replace the MIA Chief Steve Chalmers is over. By hiring Jose L. Lopez Sr., Baker eschewed Deputy Police Chief Ron Hodge, whose comment in a public forum that he "couldn't recall that the Durham Police Department has been involved in something where we made major mistakes in the past five years" brought snickers and laughter in the audience.
Chief Lopez arrives when the actions of the Durham PD are under review by the City Panel appointed to investigate the Duke Lacrosse Travesty of Justice. Hopefully the Chief will examine closely the handling of this case by the PD and institute departmental changes to address the concerns of Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown, who remarked in a May 31 letter:
One basic question is why did three Durham residents have to go to Raleigh and to the Attorney General's office to get justice? What was in the collective DNA of some within the Durham Police Department (DPD) that denied the accused justice in our City? Who was really in charge of investigating this case, the Durham Police or the DA? Who was driving the train and who was stoking the coal in the fire engine to keep this hoax of an investigation going? What was the role of the Durham Police Department in creating what the Attorney General deemed a "rush to conviction" but apparently not to justice?
Although the relationship between a police department and the district attorney is often symbiotic, roles are generally defined as investigator and prosecutor, respectively. The relationship in this case seemed one-sided, with the District Attorney's office taking both roles. Is the relationship between the District Attorney and the DPD in this case typical of the approach used in most criminal cases in Durham?
Meanwhile, City Manager Patrick Baker has another problem to solve. Apparently MIA Chief Chalmers will not be leaving the PD immediately but is staying until his pension benefits can increase.
Baker said he, Chalmers and the city's Human Resources Department are still trying to decide what the outgoing chief will do once Lopez arrives. Chalmers is retiring at the end of the year and naturally enough is concerned about the implications the timing of his departure will have on his pension, Baker said. Herald-Sun
It is heartening to note that in Durham we will have two police chiefs. Here at LieStoppers we wish to help out City Manager Baker and ask our readers: What could Chief Chalmers do while his pension increases? Any suggestions?