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« Sustainable Greensboro | Main | Cram-downs »

Jan 08, 2009

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Spag

Ever question why?

JAT

Seems like a no-brainer to this out-of-towner who, despite reading the odd LONG article on the topic, still has not a clue what all the fuss is about.

Dr. Mary Johnson

You're not "king" of this forest anymore, Ed.

The sprouts moved away from the fence.

Roch101

In a nutshell, JAT, and the News & Record will not refute these facts, the N&R reported of the existence of an illegitimate line-up book containing photographs of black police officers that was purportedly used illegitimately to target black police officers. The book's misuse was given as one of the reasons for stripping the former police chief of his powers. Since the N&R's initial reporting, new facts have come to light that refute nearly every description and characterization of the book as reported in the N&R. The N&R has not only failed to report these new facts but it also refuses to give a straight answer as to why it will not (the last public excuse being from Editor John Robinson that they were busy with election coverage.)

Here are some specifics:

1. One of the most condemning descriptions of the book was that it was "shown to every prostitute, every junkie" in Guilford and surrounding counties to get something on black police officers. The N&R attributed this to "investigators." In fact, this was said by a single investigator. A N&R reporter tried to corroborate this description but could not. The description ran as attributed to "investigators" even though it was not corroborated.

2. There is a transcript of the the single investigator making the "shown to every prostitute, every junkie" description of the book. His next words were, "I mean, that's an exaggeration..." The investigator additionally explained that his exaggeration was a characterization of what he was "hearing." The N&R never reported that the description it reprinted verbatim was described as an exaggeration by the person who said it (when he said it) or that he was referring to second-hand rumors from unnamed parties.

3. The N&R also printed numerous instances of Greensboro City Manager Mitch Johnson offering his characterizations of the book as improper. In September of 2008, Johnson legally swore, in reply to a suit for public records, that the City has no documents that indicate any misuse of the line-up book. The N&R has not reported this.

4. Shortly after the current Chief of Police, Tim Bellamy, assumed the position of interim chief, he purportedly undertook an effort to see if the alleged assault for which the line-up book was claimed to have been legitimately created had, in fact, occurred. The N&R reported that Bellamy could find no record of the alleged assault, further adding to the perception that the book had no legitimate purpose. Subsequently, the City revealed to a N&R reporter that it does indeed have records of the alleged assault. The N&R has not reported the existence of those records.

Beelzebubba

JAT: a troubled person who frequents this blog, cod bliss ewe awl, described the conflict between the 2 groups as stupid is vs. stupid does. Cod is in therapy, but between the shocks and pills he gets a post in. Cod bliss ewe, cod.

scharrison

"Subsequently, the City revealed to a N&R reporter that it does indeed have records of the alleged assault. The N&R has not reported the existence of those records."

Just curious: which city official and which reporter?

Roch101

UPDATE:

I slightly misquoted the investigator's comments about the line-up book. For the sake of accuracy and for further illustration, below is what was printed in the N&R followed by the transcript of what the investigator said:

From the N&R, February 21, 2007
-----------------------------

As Michael Longmire of Risk Management Associates described it, the belief was "every prostitute, every junkie, just about anybody in Greensboro or Guilford County or surrounding counties that might have information about the inappropriate activities of a black Greensboro police officer has been shown some kind of a book or lineup or something."

From the N&R, January 17, 2008
---------------------------------

Internal investigators have said the book was shown to prostitutes and drug dealers across the county in an effort to get information on any officers who might be engaging in illegal activities.

Transcript of what the investigator actually said.
------------------------------------------

Well, we're trying to figure out what folks are talking about because this is what is happening. Every prostitute, every junkie, just about anybody in Greensboro or Guilford County or surrounding counties that might have information about the inappropriate activities of a black Greensboro police officer has been shown some kind of a book or lineup or something. I mean, that's an exaggeration, but that's the -- you know, that's the concern.
Roch101

Here is how the N&R reported on Bellamy's failure to find records of the assault that allegedly lead to the creation of the line-up book, followed by the city's admission to a N&R reporter that is does indeed have records of the assault (the existence of those records never having been reported by the N&R):

From the News & Record, February 8, 2006
------------------------------------------

The book in question includes head shots of 114 black males, including at least 19 city officers. Wray maintains that the photos were assembled for one purpose only: A woman reported that she was sexually assaulted by an unidentified black policeman, and the 19 photos were of the uniformed black officers working that particular shift.

However, Bellamy said Tuesday that he has found no record of such an assault, whether in the form of a police report, a tape of the woman's statement or any previous computer search of the black officers on that shift.

From the N&R's Inside Scoop blog, February 5, 2008
-----------------------------------

I'm at a council meeting now, so I don't have time to comment, but here's a response from the city, which I received just a while ago:

********************************

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.

Sincerely,

Becky Jo Peterson-Buie
Chief Deputy General Counsel
Cc: Elaine Tricoli

[note: The memo the city denied it had in this reply, was posted on Ben Holder's blog the next day.]

Roch101

scharrison, see above.

Spag

Well summarized, Roch.

Ben Holder

King Ed,

How about adding the black leaders secretly taped story to the list?

scharrison

Okay, a few things, Roch:

If Ben's reading this, when and who did you get your copy of the above-mentioned 2-page memo from, and the same two questions about this memo:

http://thetroublemaker.blogspot.com/2008/02/more-black-book-memos.html

Also, although both of these documents are dated, their "distribution" is limited to one individual each; nobody else carbon copied. Others may have received copies, but they weren't listed as recipients on the letters themselves. No "Received" stamp with date and time to verify the date produced, either (if others received copies, theirs might have date stamps). Without corroborating data/evidence (including chain of custody), and considering these documents did not become public until years after the date they were supposedly prepared, their value and provenance are suspect.

Also, these two memos, supposedly from the same person, have a few characteristics that lead one to believe that at least one of them was not written by Sanders. One refers to Sanders in the third-person, which could be a sign of dictation. But that's not how dictation works, is it? One of the memos is signed, while the other isn't, and the fact that the unsigned one (supposedly) went to a higher-ranking superior is odd. In one of the documents, Sanders identifies himself as an "Investigator, Greensboro Intelligence Section", the other he identifies himself as a "Detective" with the "Special Intelligence Section". I've been trying to find out when Sanders was promoted to Detective (as a rank), and having no luck. "Detective" is a prestigious rank, and there's no way Sanders would leave it out, especially not in a memo to a Deputy Chief.

As to the July 8, 2005 memo, if it is accurate, it appears that photo lineups including "suspect" black officers (whether they were in a "black book" or not) were used in at least two different investigations, which makes the oft-used claim, "The Black Book was only used once" seem a little disingenuous, in my mind.

The same memo purports, "...she described and named at least three black male employees..." What is it? three? Four? More? If, after two and a half years, you can remember the size of the notebooks, how the photos were arranged and presented, the number and placement of cops per page, etc., then why can't you remember exactly how many officers were described and named?

Sam and Roch, you guys don't represent either side. You are representing the general public at large, at least that's what my take on your involvement is. Accepting these documents without intense scrutiny is not a pursuit of the truth, it's the pursuit of an agenda.

Roch101

scharrison:

"when and who did you get your copy of the above-mentioned 2-page memo from, and the same two questions about this memo"

I'm not sure why the when and from whom matters. The News & Record has not divulged when and where it got its copy of the RMA report from, that doesn't change the fact that it exists. If it is a question of authenticity, I would simply note that the City has acknowledged that it does, indeed, have these memos and that they are the only documents it has regarding the use of the "black book."

Nonetheless, even if you are unwilling to consider these records as legitimate, that still leaves us lacking any evidence that the "black book" was misused. Zero.

"As to the July 8, 2005 memo, if it is accurate, it appears that photo lineups including "suspect" black officers (whether they were in a "black book" or not) were used in at least two different investigations, which makes the oft-used claim, "The Black Book was only used once" seem a little disingenuous, in my mind."

There were two line up books referenced. That THE 'black book' was used only once is not disingenuous at all as the second line up book is the one which has come to be known as the "black book" -- the one for which there is no documentation of its misuse and only documentation of a legitimate purpose. There seems to be no debate that the first line-up book was legitimate. That's why it is off the table and the discussion, even by those who have claimed that there were racist motives in the GPD, do not contend its legitimacy.

I have maintained an open mind from the start on this matter, scharrison, with a genuine willingness to let the facts take us where they may. If new evidence materializes that adds to or changes the story, I'll accept it. As it stands now however, the initial characterizations of the black book and descriptions of its use remain, by the facts at hand, undocumented and mischaracterized and, in some instances, now contradicted. Them's the facts.

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