By Susan Dickson
CHAPEL HILL â€“ Following the Chapel Hill Town Councilâ€™s suggestion of use of an input website to collect information regarding events surrounding the Nov. 13 raid of the former Yates Motor Co. building, the Community Policing Advisory Committee on Monday informed the council that committee members had voted to reject the recommendation.
The committee considered the website at its Feb.15 meeting and concluded that information collected through it could not be tested for credibility or accuracy, especially when provided anonymously.
â€œIt was a helpful and constructive conversation, and at the end of our conversation it was the consensus of the members of our committee that the creation of an input website would not meaningfully assist our committee,â€ Chair Ron Bogle said.
In February, the council opted not to pursue an independent investigation of the incidents and instead voted to have town staff collect information from those with first-hand knowledge of the events via an input website, to be referred to the CPAC for review. The CPAC had petitioned the council requesting the assistance of an independent investigator, with members saying that they felt they needed the assistance of an outside investigator to adequately review the incident, noting the extensive time involved in interviewing involved parties.
Bogle said the committee had received â€œrandom-sourceâ€ information from public comments at council meetings, police Chief Chris Blueâ€™s responses to committee questions, news reports and other direct contact with the community, and that committee members felt the website would simply provide another medium for random-source information and further delay the review process.
Concerns have been raised about the policeâ€™s response to the occupation of the building, which began the night of Nov. 12 â€“ led, reportedly, by attendees of the Carrboro Anarchist Bookfair â€“ and resulted in a dramatic encounter with police the afternoon of Nov. 13, with eight arrests.
Residents have questioned the policeâ€™s failure to communicate with those inside the building prior to the raid, in which a police Special Emergency Response Team brandished long-range rifles and detained those on the sidewalk outside the entrance of the building, including two journalists, before rushing inside.
Bogle said committee members felt their role going forward would be to use the information they had to deal with issues of policy related to the incident and make recommendations accordingly.
The council referred the CPACâ€™s petition regarding the website decision to staff and wished the committee luck in their review.