"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
The Raleigh News & Observer recently reported:
Deputy Police Chief Ron Hodge, one of three finalists for Durham police chief, faced a misdemeanor charge of child abuse 10 years ago that was dismissed in court but threatened to cost him his job.With that background, we turn to the N&O’s Barry Saunders’ column published today:
City Manager Patrick Baker, who will make the final call in hiring a new police chief, said he's satisfied that Hodge and his family dealt with the problems that drew sheriff's deputies to his home May 4, 1997.
Hodge was accused of spanking his son, then 13, with a police-issued nightstick because he got into trouble at school, according to court documents and news reports from the time.
Hodge's daughter called 911, and sheriff's deputies arrived to find Hodge had locked himself in a room, according to news reports.
He was allowed to stay at the home that evening and was charged five days later with misdemeanor child abuse. The boy was not seriously injured.
The case was dismissed by a judge in early 1998, court records show.
Baker said Hodge, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, took anger management classes and the entire family underwent counseling. . . .
[Baker also said,]"There's nothing that causes me concern from that incident that affects Mr. Hodge's capacity to be the next Durham police chief."
But officials in the state Attorney General's Office thought the matter left Hodge unfit to be a police officer. They sought to have Hodge stripped of his law enforcement certification, Baker said.
Baker, who was an assistant Durham city attorney, said he is "intimately familiar" with the case because he defended Hodge against the state charges.
He said Hodge went before an administrative law judge, who found that Hodge wasn't guilty in large part because his son did not suffer substantial injuries.
The state appealed, but Hodge prevailed again.
"There never was a conviction or finding of guilt against Deputy Chief Hodge," Baker said.
There are two likely responses upon hearing that one of the dudes being considered for the top cop job in Durham was accused of hitting his son with a billy club 10 years ago.Saunders is right that most of us who live in Durham want a police chief who’ll lock up the bad guys and make our streets safer.
The first -- "Oh, how horrible. How could he?" -- is usually said by someone who has never raised a teenager and who thinks they're all like Theo Huxtable.
The other is, "Say, homes (sic). Where can I get me one of those clubs?"
If they're anything like me, most Durham residents couldn't care less who replaces Steve Chalmers as chief, as long as the winner locks up the bad guys and makes the streets safer.
One of the three candidates, Ron Hodge, is probably a long shot for two reasons. He is the No. 2 man in a department beset by image problems tied to, among other things, the Duke lacrosse case. And 10 years ago, he was accused of hitting his son with his department-issue billy club after the kid messed up.
But an awful lot of us don’t want the man who was in day-to-day charge of DPD when it arrested three innocent man following an investigation some say involved criminal conduct to be Durham’s “top cop.”
But the N&O’s Saunders doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t seem to have any problems with what DPD did to those white boys.
And as for that billy club matter, Saunders says:
Instead of lessening his chances of leading the department, the fact that he disciplined his son -- even in a manner unprescribed by the "time out" crowd -- catapults him to the top of my list. . . .Saunders doesn’t say how a police officer does “it right” when he swings his billy club at his son or anyone else. Maybe he's saving that for his next column
The decade-old incident at the Hodge homestead was bloodless and, by every account, a one-time thing.
Of course, if you do it right, it only takes one time.
In order to “do it right” just where does a police officer strike his child with his club? Saunders needs to tell us.
Saunders doesn’t say what could happen if striking of the child with the club wasn’t done “right.” Did he consider that?
Anyone aiming to strike one part of a child’s body could miss that part and hit another part of the body. The child’s head, for instance. That could do permanent and severe damage.
It would, in Saunders words, only take one time.
Folks, Durham has a lot of problems. They could get worse.
That said, I hope you won’t object when I say of Saunders' column: “Only in Raleigh; and there only at the N&O”