Police Chief Jose Lopez Durham, announced he will retire at the end of this year. The move comes after the City Manager Tom Bonfield decided that a change of command was “necessary”. Bonfield said the manager concluded this summer, citing violent crime during the past two years and unhappiness within the police department and the community.
Lopez, 59, was sworn in as police chief on 4 September 2007. Several people in the community have been calling for the withdrawal of Lopez for months. More recently, a small group of activists called for its termination after gunshots involved by officers in Angier Avenue. There were also several other prominent cases during the term of Lopez caused the confusion between the community and the Police Department, including the case of Jesus Huerta of 17 years who was beaten fatally shot while they were in police custody in handcuffs in 2013.
Last year, the Commission on Human Relations Durham found the existence of racial bias in practices Durham Police Department, according to the commission report. Also under Lopez, the total violent crime increased 22 percent in Durham from 2014 to 2015, according to Lopez shared with city leaders in May. Homicides increased 67 percent, aggravated assaults were up 28 percent and robberies increased 18 percent.
This weekend some newspapers in the Durham area alagaron the work of the police chief of Durham. I expected to mention the negative impact of its policy U visa has the immigrant community since refused to sign the certification of victims of crimes only because his officers failed to arrest someone.
Some members of the Hispanic community say the chief attended the Hispanic community only because I participate in certain public environments. The Hispanic Center has had a generally positive relationship with the Police Department, said Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, president and executive director of the organization that seeks to help the Hispanic population in Durham.During past years, Lopez appeared regularly in Hispanic radio taking phone calls.
Perhaps these people are not familiar with the work of Lopez. I want you to know the truth. Under the command of the chief, the Durham Police Department has refused to sign all certifications for the U visa if their officers failed to arrest someone or has been over a year since the crime. The result is that many people who have been victims of violent crimes and who have cooperated with the authorities have not been able to get confirmation of the Durham Police Department and have failed to submit their application Visa U.
Now with the retirement of the police chief there is a possibility that the new boss will not adopt such restrictive practices and can sign certifications in these cases. Hopefully the new police chief has more compassion than Lopez, but I’m glad it is removed.
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Attorney Stefan Latorre has offices in Charlotte, Monroe, Greensboro and Hickory in North Carolina; Columbia and Greenville in South Carolina; and Jacksonville in Florida.