Monday, September 11, 2006

Duke lacrosse: More Gottlieb info; Brodhead still silent; and the “94% question.”

In today’s Duke student newspaper, The Chronicle, there’s the headline, “Students criticize lax cop's behavior,” followed by:

Durham Police Department Sergeant Mark Gottlieb--a lead investigator in the rape case against members of the 2005-06 men's lacrosse team--has a checkered past with Duke students.

Gottlieb has occasionally used violent tactics and misrepresented the truth in court, students who he has arrested allege.

Gottlieb also jailed students for noise violations while allowing a non-student charged with the more serious charge of carrying a concealed weapon to walk away with
a citation, according to his documented arrest history.

When reached by phone, Gottlieb--who is currently on sick leave--declined to comment.

Gottlieb arrested or incarcerated Duke students at a higher rate than non-students, even when the students were accused of less-serious crimes than the non-students, according to a dossier given to The Chronicle by a Durham attorney close to the lacrosse case.

"In the winter, after seeing a number of students coming to our office reporting aberrant behavior on the part of one officer, we were afraid for the safety of students," the attorney said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "We looked to see if there was a statistical basis for it."

The attorney's examination of 32 bookings Gottlieb made in the final months of 2005 and in January 2006 revealed that 19 of the booked individuals were Duke students and the remaining 13 were not students.

While 16 out of the 19 students were arrested--most for nonviolent crimes such as noise-ordinance and open container violations--only six of the 13 non-students were arrested, the crimes they committed ranging from impersonating a police officer to assault on a female.
There much more to the story. You can read it all here.

A few thoughts ---

Today’s Chronicle story covers some of the same ground as a Raleigh News & Observer Sept. 9 story, “Detective got tough with Duke students.”

The two stories share at least two major weaknesses.

Neither gets top Duke officails on the record regarding what the two papers are reporting about Gottlieb. We're told nothing about Duke President Richard H. Brodhead's response to either story. There's nothing from top Duke administrators such as Assoc. Vice President for Campus Safety & Security Aaron Graves or Duke’s Director of Police, Robert Dean.

When will either paper get those Duke leaders on the record?

A lot of Duke students and parents want to know what Duke’s top administrators, especially President Brodhead, think about what’s being reported.

And so would many of us who live in the community and want fair police treatment for Duke students, ourselves and everyone else visiting Durham.

What's more, if there are any civil rights and/or civil liberties advocates on Duke’s faculty who want to say a word or two about what’s being reported, I’m sure readers will give any such faculty member(s) their attention.

A second major weakness of both stories is this: Gottlieb is a fifteen year veteran of the Durham Police Department. But the Gottlieb arrest records time period reported on in today’s Chronicle story (“final months of 2005 and in January 2006”) is overlapped by the arrest record time period reported on in the Sept. 9 N&O story (“May 2005 to February 2006”).

Given that Gottlieb is a fifteen year DPD veteran, the ten month time period – “May 2005 to February 2006” - covers a little less than 6% of the time Sgt. Gottlieb has been a sworn DPD officer.

The Chronicle, N&O and Editor Bob Ashley’s Herald Sun should all take a look at Gottlieb’s arrest and other public records for the other 94% of the time he's been a DPD officer.

I’ll continue to follow this story.