Thursday, August 23, 2007

Former DPD Sgt Says Top Cops Involved

Readers Note: Yesterday’s Durham Herald Sun contained a letter by a former DPD officer. If you’re already read it, you can skip the letter and go past the double starline to where my comments begin.



To the editor:

City Manager Patrick Baker realized the need for change within the Durham Police Department. Hiring Jose Lopez to lead the Police Department was the right move. He is in a strong position to make overdue command staff changes and Baker should remind him of this opportunity often.

The circumstances of the Duke lacrosse fallout and other ill-advised departmental decisions reinforce the need for change.

Durham officers long for more changes, especially the patrol officers. These men and women are most affected when command decisions are based on emotional and personal convictions rather than hard, extant evidence of solid police practices.

Operation Bull's Eye is one example of wasted taxpayer money. My fear is that it is a direct attempt to overshadow the Duke lacrosse investigation and to counter positive activities recently initiated by the Sheriff's Office in North-East Central Durham. The last few shootings and murders in Durham have not been in the target area of Operation Bull's Eye.

The Whichard committee is currently investigating the Police Department. Some leaders of the department may be held accountable. The trail leading to ineptness will most certainly reach the highest levels of the department. (emphasis mine)

When the end of the trail is reached, it will be interesting to see if the new chief and the City Council really believe change is needed.

Jerry Grugin

The writer is a former Durham Police Department sergeant.



As you read the rest of my commentary keep two things in mind:

1) On April 11, 2007 the NC Attorney General said with regard to the Duke lacrosse case: “the State had no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.”

2) On July 26, 2007 former Durham DA Mike Nifong speaking at a court hearing concerning criminal contempt charges filed against him said: "I agree with the attorney general’s statement that there is no credible evidence that Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty and Mr. Evans committed any of the crimes for which they were indicted or any other crimes during the party that occurred on March 13 and 14 of 2006 at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd."
In his letter Sgt. Grugin says, “The trail leading to ineptness will most certainly reach the highest levels of the department.”

I don’t think ineptness is the best word for what Sgt. Grugin is talking about. But he sure is right when he says the trail “will most certainly reach the highest levels of the department.”

Recall that DPD Deputy Chief Ron Hodge was in day-to-day charge of the department during most of the “investigation.”

In this post I provided a link to an April 12, 2006 MSNBC story which included this from Hodge:
"I don't think we would be here if it wasn't (a strong case)," Maj. Ron Hodge, the assistant (sic) chief of the Durham Police Department, said after the forum. (Hodge is deputy chief. The parenthetical "a strong case" is in the MSNBC story. – JinC ).
Nine months later in January 2007 when Nifong stepped aside and turned the case over to the NC Attorney General’s office, Hodge assured the Raleigh News & Observer DPD had collected evidence and that the case would go forward. I posted on the story here. The post contains a link to the N&O story which included:
Deputy Police Chief Ron Hodge said Nifong's stepping aside won't change the substance of the evidence collected by the department's detectives that a sexual assault occurred.

Hodge said he thinks that the case will still go forward and that the remaining charges will be prosecuted.

"I don't think it changes anything that we've done," Hodge said. "It just means that we'll have to deal with a different attorney."
Why did Hodge say last April DPD had a strong case when, as we now know, it never had any credible evidence? Hodge must have known that then.

Why did Hodge claim in January that DPD had collected evidence which would enable a prosecutor to go forward with the case when, as the Attorney General said just three months later, there was no credible evidence any crime had been committed?

What was Hodge doing?

What kind of police officer and administrator is Deputy Chief Ron Hodge?

The Whichard Committee has some very important work to do.

Thanks go to Sgt. Grugin for reminding us that what's happened in DPD during the Duke lacrosse frame-up and the on-going cover-up isn’t a matter of a few officers in the lower ranks doing things they shouldn’t have done. The top cops knew what was going on.

And they could have stopped it.

A good opening question for the Whichard Committtee to ask Hodge is: "Will you please, Chief Hodge, tell us a little about your professional background and work with DPD?

That should be followed with: “Now tell us about this evidence of a strong case you say DPD collected?”


Anonymous said...

Another great post, John. When will Gottlieb face the criminal investigation he has so richly earned?

JCS said...

JCS Date correction, Aug 27 2007, 09:03 PM


Group: Members
Posts: 5
Joined: 29-June 07

In your commentary on Grugin's letter to H-S, you put the date of the AG declaration in 2006, it should be 2007. Peace.

JWM said...

Anon @8:55,

Thanks for your nice words.

I can't say when Gottlieb will face a criminal investigation but I'm confident in time one will come.

JCS @ 11:12,

Thanks for catching the error.

I've got it fixed.

I appreciate careful readers like you who spot errors and let me know them in a nice way.