Big changes in protocol pending for Durham Police | News

Big changes in protocol pending for Durham Police

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In a significant change in protocol, Durham Police will be required to get written consents for vehicle searches, according to final recommendations issued by City Manager Tom Bonfield. 

Durham City Council could discuss the report today at its works session. Although the items is not on the agenda, it was mentioned at the regular Council meeting on Monday night that the report could come up today for discussion.

Bonfield released his 44 revised recommendations Tuesday afternoon. They were based on extensive feedback from the public, advocacy groups, police, City Council, city police, the Human Relations Commission and the Civilian Police Review Board.

Other significant changes include deprioritizing arrests for low-level marijuana possession, requiring more detailed traffic stop analysis and possibly purchasing body cameras for front-line officers next year.

The report contains a timeline for each recommendation. For example, city and county criminal justice officials, including the Durham district attorney, met Aug. 29 to discuss the marijuana issue. Their final recommendations will be sent to City Council and the County Commissioners through the Durham Crime Cabinet.

The purposed of the more fine-grained traffic stop analysis, which will include more information about location, officers and time of day, is to pinpoint any hint of racial bias among individual officers. Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez has consistently denied that his department engages in racial profiling.

Body cameras, which cost from $200 to $1,000, could be purchased as part of next year's budget allocations.

These changes are the result of a nearly year-long process and dozens of meetings to improve trust and transparency between city police and the community. Tensions were exacerbated by several officer-involved shootings last year.

The next regular City Council meeting is Monday, Oct. 6.


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