Danger ahead in police sag

By David Hoggard

News & Record – 4/26/06

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg�, is how Councilman Tom Phillips described it to me the other day.  He was characterizing what the public knows so far about the David Wray matter.
I believe Phillips knows of what he speaks and I further believe we are only getting glimpses of the top few centimeters of this iceberg’s tip.  Regrettably, such glimpses are only available when some “leaker� flirts with violating state personnel laws, or when the city feels compelled to notify unknowing citizens that illicit recordings were made of their conversations by police employees. 
Yes, by all indications, this iceberg is huge.
With such a hulking mountain of ice lurking just below the surface right in front of them, our City Council should not be so busy rearranging their deck chairs.  By agreeing to lie detector tests that they really needn’t take and filing notarized affidavits to absolve them of “leaker� status, our council appears keen on doing something… anything… while they wait, along with the rest of us, until all leaks are rendered irrelevant as we crash into the full weight of all of this investigating.
On the one hand we have our City Manager, City Attorney and most of our City Council battening down the information hatches lest we steerage dwellers get too knowledgeable and panicky.  On the other, we have  – by all appearances – a member of our city council who probably thought the public’s right to know trumped all else.  If this occurred, it is time to ‘fess up so we can all move on.
Even though Dianne Bellamy-Small has vehemently denied that she provided her copy of the initial RMA report to the News & Record, she has been considerably more taciturn when given the opportunity, via affidavit and public statement, to deny she handed over the contents of the report to anyone. 
The Pulpit Forum, a forthright assembly of mainly Black ministers made it clear they had connections when they stated in a March 1st press release: “…Information leaks to the public and comes to us from many sources…�   I guess they weren’t kidding.
We really should be grateful for the leak because it has allowed us to gauge the approximate size of the catastrophe we are inexorably steaming toward.  There is something to be said for disaster preparedness, and it appears we should all be scrambling for our respective flotation devices.
This looming mountain of ice promises to not only poke huge holes in local race relations (again), but it is also teaming with lawyers.
To date, the only beneficiaries of all of the leaking and plugging of Wray-related information from City Hall are the legions of attorneys representing all involved.  Since everybody and his brother has lawyered-up and hunkered down for the impending calamity, billable hour potentials increase with every fresh investigation and revelation. 
And who do you suppose is going to end up writing the check to repair the damage we all know is coming?  That’d be you and me…
So, it appears a collision with below-the-surface vestiges of our segregated past is inevitable.  However, we can, and should, be thinking about life after the disaster we are heading toward, because with the collective forbearance of the community, we will survive.
In the future, those of us in steerage need to be very careful in choosing those we entrust to guide us.  We need people who are more observant as to why such icebergs keep forming hereabouts, where they are, and how to avoid them.
But for now, brace yourselves folks, we are going to hit this one… hard.

David Hoggard (http://www.hoggsblog.com/, dhoggard@triad.rr.com) is a local blogger, business owner and bi-weekly citizen columnist for the News & Record.Copyright © 2006 – The News & Record    In depth N&R coverage: Greensboro police in transition.

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