Time to Act to end racial profiling in Durham

In the continuing community dialogue over allegations of racial profiling and police misconduct in Durham, last night’s meeting featured presentations by SCSJ’s Ian Manceand Daryl Atkinson.

Mance opened his presentation by providing an overview of DPD traffic stop data and the results of a multivariate analysis which showed race to be a statistically significant predictor of bad outcomes for black motorists pulled over for traffic infractions within city limits.  With respect to just about any metric one might choose to examine, the pattern was clear: at almost every juncture, Durham police treat black motorists more punitively and with greater suspicion than white motorists. The statistical evidence, drawn from reports the DPD submits monthly to the SBI pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 114-10.01, paints a picture of an institutionally racist pattern of policing. Among the many findings highlighted in the presentation was the fact that, despite accounting for just 17.4% of the city population, black men constitute nearly two-thirds (65.2%) of all persons searched during traffic stops.
Next, Mance invited three community members to the podium to share their experiences with police harassment. Audience members and Commissioners listened intently as the men provided multiple accounts of police misconduct towards black motorists. The months long series of FADE Coalition presentations to the HRC has been marked by a powerful blend of data regarding racial disparities in Durham PD vehicle searches and marijuana arrests, coupled with gut-wrenching stories of individuals who have come forward to share how these practices have impacted them personally.  This meeting was no exception.
Mance told the story of Mr. Keith Ragland, a native of Durham with a physical disability, who, while waiting in his car for his wife in front of a local restaurant, endured a harrowing incident with the police that culminated in six HEAT team members surrounding and searching him and his vehicle after he lawfully refused to give them permission to do so. One of five FADE recommendations would require the Durham Police Department to get written consent before searching a vehicle.
Mr. Reginald Woods, also African American, recounted an encounter with a Durham Police officer who ordered him to stay in his car as he was about to enter a convenience store, refused to tell him why, and then proceeded to physically assault and tase him as he attempted to get an explanation for his detention. The officer ultimately told him he was being questioned because he had just come from a known drug area. Mr. Woods was leaving the neighborhood near Duke hospital where he was visiting his grandmother.
Both men filed complaints with the Police Department which were sustained.  However, due to department policy, no information was ever released to the individuals or the public about how these officers were disciplined — if they were in fact disciplined at all.  This lack of transparency has sown mistrust in the community, particularly since some of the officers in question were subsequently observed engaging in the same kind of abusive behaviors. Further FADE recommendations to strengthen Civilian Oversight of the Police Department and mandate the review of officer stop data could help solve this problem.
The next and final FADE presentation to the HRC will be led by the Durham NAACP and will be held on Tuesday, January 28th at 6pm at City Hall. Spread the word and see you there!
Streaming Audio of Wednesday’s hearing is available below:

See media coverage of last night’s meeting:
ABC 11 coverage
Durham Herald Sun coverage
Post by SCSJ Macro Social Work Intern Meredith McMonigle