Chair of police review panel draws a parallel to Planning Commission | News

Chair of police review panel draws a parallel to Planning Commission

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This week, colleague Joe Schwartz and I reported on civilian oversight of the police in Chapel Hill and Durham.

While Chapel Hill's leaders are considering whether to create a panel of citizens to examine complaints against the police, Durham has had a similar board for more than 10 years.

In an interview, Chairman David Harris of the Durham Civilian Police Review Board drew an interesting parallel between the police review board and the Durham Planning Commission. At its last meeting, members of Durham's police review board said they were concerned that city and police leaders weren't responsive to the recommendations of the board.

"Are they just pacifying us and they're not really paying attention?" pondered Harris, who joined the board just last year.

He considered whether members of the board felt something akin to the futility expressed by former Durham Planning Commission member LaDawnna Summers, who resigned last month after city and county leaders went against the recommendations of the commission in two controversial rezoning cases.

No one has threatened to resign from Durham's Civilian Police Review Board over a lack of response to its recommendations. But the board has had high turnover, and in one interview, former Chairman Ethan Hertz said members generally are concerned about the few appeals the board has received.

"When we don’t see cases, I think many of us feel somewhat discouraged as to whether we really are making a difference," Hertz said.

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