Janet Johnson, a local pastor, was at her home in northeast Durham when she saw police activity in her neighborhood. During the incident, which she was not involved in, a Durham police officer driving Car No. 112 allegedly yelled and acted aggressively toward her. Then the officer "put his hand on his gun in a threatening manner," toward her husband, Johnson told the Civilian Police Review Board at last week's feedback session.
Although she wanted to file an official complaint against the officer, Johnson told the board, "I did not know any steps to take."
That was a common refrain at the session, hosted by the board as it considers amending its policy manual on its role in overseeing complaints against police.
Since Durham residents say they are unaware of the complaint forms, we've posted them here from the city government and Durham Police Department websites.
The first form is for citizens to fill out if they have a complaint against the police department. If they are dissatisfied with the department's findings on their complaint, they can then appeal to the Civilian Police Review Board, which is the second form.
DPD Chief Jose Lopez has said the low number of complaints indicates there are few problems within the department. However, many of those who addressed the board—only four of the eight members attended—noted the police had never told them they could file a complaint.
One man said he wrote a letter to the City Council and Mayor Bill Bell about an incident that happened two years ago. "I got not one phone call," he said. "No one said I could complain. No one gave me the form."
Over the past 10 years, 31 complaints were appealed to the board. Of those, the board granted just two requests for a hearing.
The Civilian Police Review Board will meet Wednesday, March 26 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, City Council Chambers, to vote on any proposed changes to its protocol. The board will send its recommendations to City Council, which must approve any final changes.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Be informed."