Friday, June 10, 2005

The Real Chief Wray?

Lorraine Ahearn's column in todays Greensboro N&R paints a potentially scary portrait of Police Chief David Wray as a man who's started a "secret police" squad within the police department and who unfairly disciplines African-American officers.

But that portrait doesn't agree at all with my own experiences of Chief Wray.

At last night's meeting of the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress, he came to discuss enforcement of a proposed new noise ordinance. But there's no way a police chief, in a room full of neighborhood activists, is going to get out without addressing a whole range of crime issues.

It was quite a sight. He stood in the middle of a circle of about 40 representatives of various neighborhoods, about half of them African-American, while they peppered him with questions about persistent problems with drug dealers, prostitutes, their fear of bullying thugs, and even a few questions about noise. He handled himself with perfect aplomb and treated every question with respect, even when a resident of Bluford Park said repeatedly, "Just give me a bazooka" because she was so frustrated with persistent crime. (I've felt that way myself.)

I have seldom seen a white man so comfortable and adept at dealing with a multi-racial crowd. At one point he even did a little snake-hips dance for Dorothy Brown, after she asked him if she could call him "David." "You called me 'David' last night," he joked as he wiggled. Dorothy, who is 75 years old and black, laughed and told him she was too old for that kind of thing. She added that "David is one of my boys," and clearly has a warm relationship with him.

I'm a fan of the Chief, and I think he has done a good job of improving law enforcement with the limited tools the City Council has given him.

He mentioned the word "retirement" last night, indicating he has 27 more months before he's eligible. I hope he stays around longer than that.

Update: Hoggard has another view.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like he's a darn good politician to me.

Billy Jones said...

For the time being none of us know the truth about the "secret police" so I'll not comment except to say that David Wray is far better at being police chief than the last three we've had.

Anonymous said...

I like the suggestion by the Police Union on how best to investigation complaints against officers;"Go face to face and ask them if they did whatever they were accused of and if they don't tell the truth charge them with lying". That is great, but how do you know if they are lying if you don't investigate????