Friday, December 21, 2007

Former Officer to DPD Chief: Clean House Now

Readers Note:

Today's Durham Herald Sun carries an op-ed by former Durham Police officer Jerry Grugin, "House cleaning needed at Police Department." It follows in its entirety. I'll comment on it tomorrow.

Your comments are welcome anytime.


With another federal lawsuit initiated by more Duke lacrosse players, one has to wonder just what has been done by city officials to ensure that a tragedy like this one never happens again. After all the publicity and all the shame the City of Durham and its police department face, and after no complete accounting of the lacrosse investigation, one has to contemplate why the City of Durham wishes to vigorously fight the lawsuits.

And why has Chief Jose Lopez not demanded full accountability of the case? With history having already been made, and more history in the making, city leaders really need to get a full grasp on the gravity of the situation and demand accountability of the involved members of the police department.

Instead, this has happened:

First, no person in the police department has been fired regarding the lacrosse tragedy. This is amazing, considering the tragedy is probably one of the most damaging to the craft of law enforcement throughout the country in recent memory.

Second, the Willis Whichard committee was dissolved and has not been reinstated. Why has this happened?

Third, where is the current leadership in the police department and why aren't they standing up in an attempt to do the right thing instead of riding through this firestorm?

I cannot remember so many lawsuits against the city and the police department. Currently, there is a reporter, a police officer, and two groups of lacrosse players that have filed or are filing lawsuits against the city and its police department. And these are just the ones I have read about. All these lawsuits should send a very big message.

It is time to clean house at the police department. It is far overdue. Citizens of Durham should demand this happen. It is not too late for Chief Lopez to demand change, but it will be if he waits much longer.

Until real change is made at the police department, the citizens of Durham can expect their city and their police department to come under more scrutiny and embarrassment. They can expect more lawsuits. They can expect more of the same.

I spent 13 years as a Durham police officer. When I was hired, I was truly proud to be part of such a noble profession. In that period, I saw the Durham Police Department go from being one of the most respected in the region, to one of the most laughed at in the region.

There is a reason why that happened. It is a shame that nobody has had the ability to reverse the course and make things right again.

Now I am exuberant I am no longer part of a department which continues down such a road.


Anonymous said...

It is puzzling that the new Chief Lopez has not moved more decisively to clean the DPD house of such obvious malefactors as Sgt. Gottlieb.

I have heard that Duke has an unspoken policy that no real housecleaning will begin until all litigation has been resolved.

I wouldn't be surprised if Lopez also has had his hands tied by the Durhan City Council (or perhaps, under order of the Insurers) so as not to alienate any potential witnesses against the DPD.

Anonymous said...

3:40 - Probably true but you have to admire Mr. Grugin's courage.

Anonymous said...


The screws are tightening. No doubt about that.

Jerry Grugin's letter puts the spotlight on Chief Jose Lopez. He must feel very uncomfortable. He should.

The whole atmosphere has started to change regarding reactions to the actions of Duke and Durham. This letter epitomizes the change. I think there is a good possibility others will join in.

It would be the best gift they could give to Durham.


Anonymous said...

The obvious answer is that maybe Chief Lppez does not agree that the DPD needs to "clean house" or that Gottlieb should be fired.

Anonymous said...

RE 6:48
Let's see if I understand you: "The obvious answer is that maybe..." Well, is it obvious or not?

Brant Jones

Anonymous said...

Will Grugin tell us WHY he thinks the DPD has fallen into such disrepute?

Ralph Phelan said...

It is puzzling that the new Chief Lopez has not moved more decisively to clean the DPD house of such obvious malefactors as Sgt. Gottlieb.

Not at all. Making it clear that he wouldn't was almost certainly an important part of how he got the job. remember who was making the hiring decision, after all....