The gist: It wasn't clear from the document request that the paper was seeking the memo in question ("Other than the one paragraph, this document only meets the description as provided by the News and Record’s request in that it is a two page document.")
And, this memo would have been released long ago had Mitch known about it because it is "a 'smoking gun' regarding the issue of Chief Wray's lack of forthrightness regarding this issue."
You can read the whole thing after the jump.
CITY OF GREENSBORO FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jim Collins Phone: 412-6311
From Greensboro City Manager: News & Record Article This Morning
Date : February 8, 2008
From : City Manager
To : All Concerned
Subject: News and Record article this morning
- The News and Record request did not match the document in question.
- The City of Greensboro responded immediately when a better description of the document was provided.
- The document in question has never been a part of the so called “black book”. The document is, in fact, a “smoking gun” which proves that the Wray administration knew about the existence of a document that fit the common description of the so-called “black book” as soon as July 8th, 2005.
- The “black book” was removed from the custody of the investigating officer S. Sanders, some time after July 8th 2005, and “secured” at the direction of Chief Wray. Deputy Chief Brady placed it in the trunk of his police car.
- At no time from July 8, 2005 until approximately one to two weeks after his resignation did Chief Wray provide an explanation to me or anyone else regarding the creation and use of the “black book”. Something that he could have done as early as July 9th 2005 and very well might have prevented this entire situation. With regard to my issues with Chief Wray this was the issue; how the document was used was still unknown to me at that time and I stated that many times publicly. Once the “black book” was taken from the investigating officer, it appears all efforts to resolve the investigation it was created for ceased.
- At no time have I said that the “black book” was proof of racial profiling. This was a claim from officers who either were or believed that they were in the rumored “black book”. At one time, I stated that “I would be uncomfortable if I was a black officer”. I stand by that statement given the way these issues were handled by the previous administration.
- I have been barred from releasing the detail information regarding the “black book” including the multiple audio files of Detective Sanders interviews with the subject by the NC Attorney General’s Office due to a criminal investigation. However, it is clear that copies of all of the documentation and audio files are available externally to the City of Greensboro and, if those individuals cared to, they could release all of this information so that the actions would be “transparent”.
- The City of Greensboro web site provides access to all previously released information which fully explains my actions to date.
On January 18th, 2008, Margaret Banks of the News and Record made a request for information. This request was based on a description of these items given to her by Seth Cohen who represents Scott Sanders. The body of which follows:
I’d like to request the following information:
• Copies of the CAD report Scott Sanders generated to create the 19 names of the officers listed in the “black book.”
• The names of the 19 black officers who were working the day and time the alleged sexual assault occurred.
• The two-page memo Tom Fox and Scott Sanders wrote summarizing the rationale behind the “black book.”
As always, the News & Record is willing to pay a reasonable fee for copies of these documents.
Over the following two weeks, staff worked to identify each of the items requested and to determine what, if any, could actually be released. With the exception of the “two page memo” the other items were identified; however, we had to determine if they could be released which depended on NC Attorney General Jim Coman’s decision as to whether they were part of his criminal trial. On Tuesday, February 5th, we received Mr. Coman’s response that they were and therefore could not be released but that we could verify that they did exist in our records.
The staff continued looking for a “two-page memo Tom Fox and Scott Sanders wrote summarizing the rationale behind the “black book.” But based on this description, they were unable to locate a memo which fit that description. By that Tuesday afternoon, the decision was made to respond to the News and Record with the information we had.
The response follows:
February 5, 2008
VIA E-MAIL Ms. Margaret Banks News & Record 200 East Market Street Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Dear Ms. Banks:
This letter is in response to your e-mail requesting the following:
“Copies of the CAD report Scott Sanders generated to create the 19 names of the officers listed in the black book; The names of the 19 black officers who were working the day and time the alleged sexual assault occurred; The two-page memo Tom Fox and Scott Sanders wrote summarizing the rationale behind the black book; and Any and all tape recordings of Scott Sanders discussions with the prostitute who alleges she was sexually assaulted by the black officers.”
We have been informed that “the two tapes you requested, including multiple other tapes are part of a criminal investigation in the custody of the SBI (IA has copies of the tapes as part of its investigation”. All the documents you requested, with the exception of the aforesaid two-page memo, constitute records of criminal investigations pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes section 132-1.4 and are not public records as defined by G.S. 132-1.
We have researched and are not aware of the existence of the alleged two-page memo summarizing the rationale behind the black book. Consequently, there is no public record in response to your request.
Becky Jo Peterson-Buie Chief Deputy General Counsel
Cc: Elaine Tricoli
I underlined the portion of the text which has caused the concern.
The following day a local blogger posted the memo which, according to the blogger, was a copy of the memo requested. I cannot legally provide a copy of the memo until Council releases it but I can certainly describe the memo as posted.
First, it is a memo from Sanders to Deputy Chief G.R. Brady. The entire first page is a discussion regarding work done with photographic lineups by Sanders during the investigation of Hinson contained in yellow folders. The entire first paragraph of the second page continues this discussion and the last paragraph, a total of 10 lines, discusses the creation of the line up document of black police officers that resulted in what is now known as the “black book”.
Other than the one paragraph, this document only meets the description as provided by the News and Record’s request in that it is a two page document.
According to the Internal Affairs (IA) investigators, this document was turned over to him in January of 2006 during an IA interview and was not at any time a part of the “black book”.
If anyone reads the document in question, I believe that they can clearly see why the City staff, looking for a document that meets the description requested, did not identify this as the document in question.
However, once it was posted, staff was able to very quickly identify the document in the IA records and it was given to the appropriate people and they then contacted the News and Record as reported.
As Manager, I responded to a call from Ms. Banks and told her everything I have stated above. In addition, I said that clearly I was not aware of the document because it was, in fact, a “smoking gun” regarding the issue of Chief Wray’s lack of forthrightness regarding this issue. Had I known about it I would have requested its release much sooner. The next to last sentence in the paragraph describing the creation of the “black book” reads as follows: “These line-ups are housed in the case file book and shown to the victim/witness; this is a one inch three ring black notebook.” (I added the bolding.)
In other words, on July 8, 2005 Deputy Chief G.R. Brady was made clearly aware that a document existed which fit the description of the document which had become referred to in the press at that time as the “black book”. Furthermore, from Deputy Chief Brady’s own words in his interview with RMA on November 16th 2005, he stated “Later, I came into possession of it and I asked them, I said – well I actually asked Tom, I said you guys had mentioned there was no black book. I said and here it is.”
Furthermore, when asked what Chief Wray did when he was shown the book Chief Brady responded “He told me to secure it and be sure that I held on to it.”
It appears this dialog occurred some time in July or August. It was not until the interview with Brady on November 16th of that year that the existence of the book became known to me. It had been stored in the trunk of Brady’s Police Car until that time. And yet, even then, Chief Wray did not, at anytime, discuss with me the document in question. The first time a full explanation was given by Chief Wray was after he had resigned in January of 2006. The unfortunate decision by the Chief not to be forthright about this in July of 2005 has created a great deal of the problems we are now dealing with.
By the time Chief Wray provided the public explanation in January of 2006, I had turned over the investigation of all issues to Chief Bellamy and we are well aware of the results.
I want to state several points because in this media storm they seem to be almost always lost:
- From my very first press conference until today I have never said that the “black book” was definitively a profiling document. In fact, even though I have been constantly goaded by the media to say more, I have stated that it may have been an appropriate investigative document but that I could not say for sure because it depended on the outcome of the various investigations. The issue of the “black book” has always been one of truthfulness on the part of the former Chief regarding the existence of the document. I stand by that position today and, in fact, the memo in question is another nail in that coffin!!! It is documented evidence outside of the RMA interview that Brady knew about the document.
- I have been prevented by the State Attorney General’s office from discussing the information we have developed about the “black book” and Detective Sanders interviews with the subject in question. But I will say this, after Brady took the book from Sanders, it appears that all activity on this investigation stopped.
It appears to me that the reality of the situation is that people outside of the City of Greensboro have complete access to all of the same documentation that the City of Greensboro does regarding these matters. They could release the contents of all of the audio recordings of Detective Sanders, they could release the actual CAD print outs and they could release statements from Detective Sanders regarding who he reported to and what he reported to them. They could do this immediately if they truly desire “transparency”. The City of Greensboro cannot because of the liability and the directives of State and Federal Attorney Generals in addition to the various attorneys representing the many players in this drama.
The City of Greensboro has acted at all times to release information as soon as possible and explain our actions. This document was no different. Once we understood which document was being requested, instead of making excuses, we immediately contacted the reporter.