"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
Two weeks ago today, the Durham Herald Sun published a letter from Durham Police Corporal David Addison. He complained about what he said were “slander and vicious attacks” by Durham City leaders directed at the DPD.
What actually upset Addison is that many Durham City leaders and a shocked public have demanded an independent investigation into how and why certain DPD officers, working with a rogue DA, arrested and charged with felony crimes three young men who the NC Attorney General later said were innocent. Addison is one of those DPD officers.
Although blatantly self-serving and misleading, Addison’s letter provided an opportunity for people to write response letters. The H-S published four of them. (You can read them here and here)
People asked questions DPD hasn’t answered for 15 months. They pointed out why an independent investigation is essential to uncovering what went wrong. And the point was made more than once that it’s not the actions of all DPD officers which need to be scrutinized: only the actions of those who were part of the “Nifong/DPD investigative team.” Most DPD officers do fine work under tough and dangerous conditions. They deserve our thanks.
Those letters had an impact. In Durham, as in many cities, the biggest draw to the editorial page is the letters. People read them, including our pols and opinion leaders.
Today’s H-S contains another opportunity for people to write letters regarding what the “Nifong/DPD investigative team” did.
The opportunity comes in the form of a guest column from DPD Lieutenant Maurice Hayes who begins:
I am a lieutenant with the Durham Police Department, where I have served for 23½ years. I worked for Deputy Chief Ron Hodge for several years when he was the commander in District 1 in eastern Durham and I think he is the right choice for Durham's next police chief. He is fair, honest, straightforward, responsive to problems and an innovative thinker.Hayes goes on to fulsomely praise other work Deputy Chief Ron Hodge has done over the years.
His results in District 1 prove that he is a strong commander who can develop solutions to crime problems. In his two years as commander of District 1 (2000-2002), violent crime dropped 20 percent and property crime decreased by 26 percent. These are results that would make any police commander proud.
But Hayes says nothing about Hodge’s leadership of DPD during the time the “Nifong/DPD investigative team” attempted to frame the three young men. Hodge was in day-to-day charge of DPD during most the attempted frame-up because, the public was told, Chief Steve Chalmers was “on leave taking care of his sick mother.”
Hayes says nothing about what Hodge has done to uncover and publicly explain what the DPD part of the “Nifong/DPD investigative team” did wrong.
It’s no doubt an unintentional irony that Hayes’ guest column appears exactly 15 months to the day Cpl. Addison, acting as DPD spokesperson, told the public: "You are looking at one victim brutally raped.”
Why, during those 15 months, has Hodge never explained why his department’s spokesperson told Durham’s public that falsehood on March 24, 2006 and so many more falsehoods in the days that followed? Hayes doesn’t tell us.
In fact, Hayes never mentions what’s called “the Duke lacrosse case.” Yet it’s undoubtedly one of the most important cases in Hodge’s career and the subject of an impending investigation by a panel appointed by the Mayor and City Council.
I hope many of you will use the opportunity Hayes’ guest column provides to write response letters. You can send them via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The H-S typically limits letters to 250 words. The H-S publishes letters from out-of-towners.
Police and prosecutors all over America are watching Durham. They’ll be influenced by what happens here. For that reason if no other, every American has a stake in how things work out here.
I hope many of you will write fact-based letters asking questions and raising concerns regarding Hodge’s candidacy for Durham Police Chief.
Here's another link to Lieutenant Hayes' guest column.