Council, chief have heated discussion about race and police

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A frank and, at times, heated conversation about race and policing at Tuesday night’s Wilmington City Council meeting. It happened as Police Chief Ralph Evangelous gave an update to council on that very topic. He said his department’s concern is with victims and that the department won’t back down because of data that doesn’t tell the whole story.

A recent report from UNC Chapel Hill showed blacks are more likely to get stopped by police than whites in Wilmington. The department said that’s true, but the police chief said that statistic alone does not tell the whole story.  Evangelous said blacks are also more likely to be victims of violent crime and that police are going where the crime is. The chief said they won’t stop doing that, but Council member Earl Sheridan had questions.

“I was stopped at one point. Somebody said, ‘Hey, you’ve touched the yellow line,’ you know, and there are other things of this nature that happen,” Sheridan said of his personal experience with WPD.

The comment followed an intense exchange between the council member and the chief over the nature of race in the department’s policing.

“The vast majority of our people are good, honest, hard-working folks and we should not paint them with the same brush as these people who don’t do it right because, like I said, that’s bias in and of itself,” said Chief Evangelous, adding that the study made it sound like the department was biased.  It’s a claim he denies.

The chief also made a point of saying he will not engage his officers in so called de-policing, or pulling officers out of high crime areas. He called that practice immoral and said it wouldn’t happen as long as he was still the chief.

Categories: New Hanover, News

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