DURHAM: Durham police recommendations meeting draws large crowd - WNCN: News, Weather

Durham police recommendations meeting draws large crowd

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The meeting was moved to a larger space due to the overflowing crowd. The meeting was moved to a larger space due to the overflowing crowd.
DURHAM, N.C. -

A crowd filled Durham City Hall Thursday to discuss the city manager's new report recommending changes to the police department.

The recommendations come after incidents of officer-involved shootings and allegations of racial bias.

The meeting was moved to a larger space due to the overflowing crowd. Even then, it was standing room only to discuss Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield's recommendations.

More than a dozen public citizens spoke. Many of those represented community organizations.

Bonfield said his review found racial biases do exist in some cases in the police department.

Many in attendance praised the recommendations but also expressed concern enough wasn't being done.

The biggest sticking point was the documentation of searches. Durham police will start requiring written consent for searches of premises and investigations. But the report said officers can use discretion in accepting verbal consent in vehicle stops.

"We believe our police men and women are big enough and professional enough and mature enough to handle the addition of a piece of paper into their process in order to ensure constitutional guarantees and equal protection," said Mark-Anthony Middleton of Durham C.A.N.

Bonfield saw the need for officers to be able to make decisions concerning searches without written permission.

"I don't think it makes sense to absolutely take away the opportunity for an officer to make a split-second decision about whether a situational control could be lost due to having to move to written consent," Bonfield said.

Several council members said they have not read the entire report yet.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell said today's public comments will help guide him on what to focus on when he reads it.

The council is expected to talk further at its next meeting Sept. 2.

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