NC Police Chief Resigns in Scandal With Race Overtones

Law Enforcement

The police chief of Greensboro, N.C., has resigned and an elite intelligence unit was temporarily disbanded in the wake of a wide-ranging scandal that includes allegations that the chief used the unit to secretly investigate black officers.

Chief David Wray left his job Jan. 9 after seven months of controversy that began when a black lieutenant said that he'd found members of the department's Special Intelligence Section (SIS) tailing him. At around the same time, city officials began to hear complaints from other black officers about a "black book" with photos of 19 black officers and 95 others. Some witnesses said white SIS officers used the book as they sought to have them implicate black officers in various crimes.

City Manager Mitchell Johnson ordered an investigation of Wray and the SIS unit by outside consultants. Two high-ranking officers retired immediately after their interviews with the consultants. After the chief also quit, Johnson said the five-man SIS unit had pursued "unproven, previously investigated and unsubstantiated charges against certain African American officers" and damaged the department. "If I was a black officer, I would certainly feel targeted," he said. He said that the probe found Wray had been part of a cover-up that included hiding the black book.

An investigative account in Greensboro's News & Record reported "the squad used surveillance, photographs, eavesdropping and the collaboration of prostitutes in an effort to gather evidence against fellow officers." No officer was ever charged.

The FBI is reviewing the case for possible civil rights violations. Meanwhile, Wray's assistant chief, Timothy Bellamy, is running the department as interim chief. Chief Bellamy, like about 15% of the 700-officer Greensboro force, is black.