Two groups are accusing the Durham Police Department is racially selecting drug arrests, with a disproportionate number of minorities arrested.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Durham FADE Coalition sent a letter to Police Chief Jose Lopez, Mayor Bill Bell and other city leaders saying they found evidence that the DPD is unconstitutionally setting up license checkpoints for the purpose of doing drug enforcement in certain areas.
During a news conference Wednesday, Southern Coalition for Social Justice attorney Ian Mance said the department pays secret cash bonuses to drug informants based on the effectiveness of their testimony.
"This is, to put it mildly, a gross violation of laws of criminal procedure," Mance said. "From what we know, this practice appears to have been relegated exclusively to black and Latino defendants, some of whom were later deported out of the country on account of this illegally purchased testimony or cooperation."
Durham City District Attorney General Patrick Baker said he would not approve of paying bonuses to those informants and his office is looking into that allegation. Police have sent Baker's office an explanation of the cases in question.
In a statement, the Durham Police Department denied "any unethical or illegal activity as it relates to the paying of bonuses to confidential informants."
"The police department has never paid for convictions, only cooperation through case completion."
The police attorney will review the department's practices to make sure there were no issues in how informants were paid.
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