Butner Man Arrested For Attempted Murder, Kidnapping In Chapel Hill Assault

U.S. Marshals arrested a man in Oxford on Wednesday on charges of attempted murder in Chapel Hill.

Twenty-three-year-old Terrail Laquam Hicks, of Butner, is charged with four felonies: attempted first degree murder; first degree kidnapping; assault by strangulation; and assault inflicting serious injury.

Terrail Hicks

Terrail Hicks

According to police reports, Hicks forced his girlfriend into his car outside the Pulse nightclub on East Rosemary Street shortly before 2 a.m. on Sunday morning.

He reportedly beat her, then drove her to Durham against her will. She was released somewhere in Durham, and transported by ambulance to Durham Regional Hospital for a fractured jaw, fractured orbital and lacerations.

Three days later, the U.S. Marshal’s joint fugitive task force took Hicks into police custody at a home on Sam Moss Hayes Road in Oxford. Hicks is currently being held in the Orange County Jail on $420,500 bond.

If you or someone you know needs help dealing with domestic violence in Orange County, you can contact the Compass Center for Women and Families. They operate a 24-hour hotline: 919-929-7122.

There’s also a national domestic violence hotline you can call: 1-800-799-7233.


Local Man’s No Good, Very Bad Day

A Chapel Hill man had a pretty bad day recently, which ended with him showing up on three police reports within 24 hours: Twice as an arrestee, and once as a complainant.

On March 5th, 53-year-old David Patillo was arrested for driving while impaired on Franklin Street near Estes Drive, shortly after 1 a.m. Patillo blew a .2 on his breathalyzer test.

According to Lt. Josh Mecimore of the Chapel Hill Police Department, the arresting officer originally stopped Patillo for speeding.

He was held for four hours at Orange County Jail and released without bond.

And the story continues.

“After he was released from the jail and came to pick up his vehicle the following afternoon at four o’clock,” said Mecimore, “he was cited for urinating in public, in the front parking lot of the police department.”

That was just uncalled-for.

“We have bathrooms inside,” said Mecimore.

Unfortunately for Patillo, after he was released, again, from custody, he soon found that he had a new priority No. 1 at the police station: Asking the officers for help.

“He was later the complainant in an automobile theft, where he couldn’t locate his vehicle,” said Mecimore. “It was last parked on the side of the road on Deming Road.”

The missing car is a 2001 red Mercury Sable, with the license plate CJL2622.

If you see it around town, please report it to the Chapel Hill police, and help out a guy who had a really bad day.


Chapel Hill Police To Carry Naloxone Kits

Chapel Hill Police will soon begin carrying the anti-overdose drug Naloxone.

“Most of our officers have completed training and we’re just in the process of getting the kits and putting them out for our patrol officers,” says Lieutenant Josh Mecimore.

Naloxone is an opioid-blocking nasal spray that can save the life of an overdose victim by temporarily reversing the effects of opiates, giving emergency responders a window of opportunity to get patients to the hospital for treatment.

Carrboro Police have carried the kits since October, and in that time, officers have used it twice to revive overdose victims.

You can read more on those incidents here.

Across North Carolina, there has been a more than 300 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths since 1999, according to the state Center for Health Statistics.

Last year, 86 people in Orange County were hospitalized due to overdose.

Carrboro Police Captain Chris Atack says his department has seen that prescription pain killers are a growing local problem.

“We have known for years that there has been a prescription drug abuse problem” says Atack. “We have been involved with other agencies, Chapel Hill specifically, for drug take-back activities, so there’s been an awareness on the law enforecment side that this is a real issue.”

While the total number of opiate overdose deaths in Orange County is small, Health Department Program Manager Meredith Stewart says it is on the rise.

An average of 3.5 out of six poisoning deaths was attributable to prescription opiates a decade ago. Now, that average has risen to seven out of ten poisoning deaths for the past three years.

Fundamentally, Stewart says any number of preventable deaths is too much.

“There are still people in Orange County dying and, really, one person is too many because we do have effective methods like naloxone to use when an overdose is actually happening,” says Stewart.

The Health Department also offers naloxone kits to Orange County residents so friends and family members of those with a history of opiate abuse can have the rescue drug on hand.



Silver Alert: Police Seek Missing Man, 60

Chapel Hill Police are seeking a missing man, 60-year-old Scott Montgomery Gibson.

The NC Center for Missing Persons issued a Silver Alert earlier this week for Gibson, who was last seen on Deming Road, just off Franklin Street between downtown and Estes Drive.

Gibson is a 60-year-old white male, 6 feet tall and 150 pounds, with gray hair, brown eyes and glasses, last seen wearing a brown leather jacket, one white and one black leather glove, driving a white 2003 four-door Lincoln sedan with Texas license plates. He may be headed for Plano, Texas.

If you have information about Scott Gibson, contact Chapel Hill Police at 919-612-8240.


Chapel Hill Police Buy 40 Rifles To Equip Patrol Cars

In a recent memo to the Town Council, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue says the police department purchased 40 rifles to meet a long-standing goal to have a rifle available in every patrol vehicle.

The purchase was made using federal drug seizure funds and will not come out of the department’s operating budget.

Chapel Hill police officers are already armed with handguns, but Blue notes there may be times when those are not sufficient. He writes:

“We learned during the Wendell Williamson shooting that handguns are largely ineffective when an assailant is equipped with a rifle, as the range and accuracy of a handgun is significantly inferior to that of a rifle. The potential for such an event to happen again in our community is real.”

Blue says all officers must successful qualify with the rifle before being allowed to carry one.

There are only a handful of situations in which officers are authorized to use rifles.

These include when someone has been taken hostage or a suspect is barricaded, when officers have reason to believe a suspect who poses an immediate threat is wearing body armor, or when officers face a “threat of deadly force” from someone with a weapon.

The department’s use of force policy mandates that any incident of pointing or discharging a weapon be reported to the Chief of Police and investigated. The town’s Community Policing Advisory Committee will review the department’s policies regarding rifles in the near future.

Here’s the full email from Chief Blue:

This message is to provide information to our Council about our recent acquisition of 40 patrol rifles. 

As you know, we have had a handful of rifles in our inventory for some time. Their use and deployment are strictly regulated by policy. We have had a long-standing goal to have a rifle available in each patrol vehicle so each of our officers on patrol would have immediate access to one, if needed. However, we have not had enough rifles in inventory to achieve this goal, which means that an officer could respond to a situation where a rifle is necessary to save lives but not have one available to him/her. Through the use of federal drug seizure funds, we have recently acquired enough rifles to have one available in every patrol car so all patrol officers will have access to one. This acquisition has no impact on our operating budget.

We require that all patrol officers successfully qualify with the rifle prior to carrying one. All of our existing policies that regulate rifle deployment, qualification, and documenting use of force will apply. Consistent with their charge, I will engage our Community Policing Advisory Committee in a review of the applicable policies to ensure that we acknowledge and consider any community impacts.

Our current weapons policy allows rifles to be deployed if one or more of the following situations exist:
-The officer reasonably believes deployment is necessary to counter the imminent threat of deadly force by a person possessing a weapon
-A person has been taken hostage or someone is barricaded 

-The officer reasonably believes a suspect, who poses an imminent threat of harm, is wearing body armor
-Activation of the Special Emergency Response Team
-Other unique situations at the direction of a supervisor

Our use of force policy also requires that any pointing or discharge of a weapon, whether intentional or accidental, be reported immediately in writing to the Chief of Police through the officer’s direct supervisor and then is investigated pursuant to our normal policies and procedures.

Our officers must be prepared and equipped to respond to dangerous situations where they may be overwhelmed by the amount of force confronting them and where their body armor may be insufficient. We take this responsibility very seriously. We learned during the Wendell Williamson shooting that handguns are largely ineffective when an assailant is equipped with a rifle, as the range and accuracy of a handgun is significantly inferior to that of a rifle. The potential for such an event to happen again in our community is real. It is incumbent upon us to provide our officers with the training, equipment, and support to respond to such events with confidence and the tools they need to keep our community (and themselves) safe.

Please let me know if you require additional information.

Chris Blue
Chief of Police


Three Dead After Shooting In Chapel Hill

Three people are dead and one is in custody after a shooting Tuesday afternoon in Chapel Hill.

A press conference was held Wednesday afternoon, with Durham District Attorney Roger Echols, U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue, and Abdullah Antepli, director of Muslim affairs at Duke University. Listen to the full press conference below:


The suspect’s wife, Karen Hicks, and attorneys, Rob Maitland and Michele English of Maitland Law Firm in Chapel Hill, also held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon:


Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt gave his first interview since the shooting to WCHL:


Suzanne Barakat, brother of Deah Barakat, issued a statement through a press conference on Wednesday afternoon:


Chapel Hill Police have confirmed that a shooting took place shortly after 5:00 pm at the Finley Forest Condos on Summerwalk Circle near the Friday Center. Officers arrived to find three gunshot victims, all three of whom were pronounced dead at the scene. The three victims are 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, of Chapel Hill, 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad, of Chapel Hill, and 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, of Raleigh. A vigil is planned for Wednesday night at 6:30 at the Pit.

Chapel Hill Police say the “preliminary investigation  indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking.  Hicks is cooperating with investigators and more information may be released at a later time.”

In a release, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue says, “Our investigators are exploring what could have motivated Mr. Hicks to commit such a senseless and tragic act.  We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case.  Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these young people who lost their lives so needlessly.”

According to United Muslim Relief, Barakat and Mohammad were founding members of the Triangle chapter serving UNC, Duke, and NC State. Abu-Salha was currently serving as an officer with the group, and she organized monthly efforts to help feed the homeless in Raleigh.

46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks has been arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder.


Hicks was being held in the Durham County Jail but has since been moved to Central Prison. He is being held without bond. He appeared before a judge Wednesday morning and was told he would be assigned a public defender. He’s scheduled for a probable cause hearing on March 4.

An Alert-Carolina message identified one victim as dental student at UNC, his wife as a student who was set to begin her dental studies in the fall, and the third as a student at NC State. The full statement is below:

The Chapel Hill Police Department has released additional information this morning about Tuesday’s shooting near campus that claimed the lives of three people. It is with deep sadness that we share with you the news that the victims included Deah Barakat, a second-year student in the School of Dentistry, and his wife, Yusor, who had planned to begin her dental studies here in the fall. Her sister, Razan, a student at N.C. State University, was also killed. Chancellor Folt will issue a campus message later this morning when we have more details.

Hicks posted messages on facebook declaring his atheist views, but there is no confirmed connection that religion played a part in these murders. He also posted a photo of a gun on the social media site on January 20:

hicks gun screenshot

Meanwhile, friends of the victims have set up a facebook page to honor their lives.

Yusor dancing at her weekding. Photo via Facebook

Yusor dancing at her wedding. Photo via Facebook

Barakat was working with youcaring.com to raise money for dental relief in Syria.


 Congressman David Price released the following statement:

I join our community in shock and sorrow at the shooting of three students in Chapel Hill last night, and in the desire to reach out to the families, friends, and classmates of the victims.

This appalling act of violence has shaken our community’s sense of peace and reminded us once again that we still face serious barriers to mutual acceptance. We must redouble our efforts to bridge the gaps of intolerance and hatred that divide our society.

 Statement from Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt:

Our community has been rocked by a horrible crime with the shootings of three young people. On behalf of the Chapel Hill community, I ask that you join with me in remembering the parents, family and friends of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, in your thoughts and prayers. I offer them my heartfelt condolences.

The assailant is in custody after turning himself in to police. I have full confidence this crime is being thoroughly investigated. The Chapel Hill Police Department is using all available resources to determine whether hate was a motivating factor. All we know for certain at this time is that it was a senseless and tragic act surrounding a longstanding dispute.

I share strong feelings of outrage and shock with my fellow citizens and University students — as well as concerned people everywhere. We do not know whether anti-Muslim bias played a role in this crime, but I do recognize the fear that members of our community may feel. Chapel Hill is a place for everyone, a place where Muslim lives matter.

These deaths represent an incomprehensible loss. I believe that we can find strength by acknowledging the fear and outrage that this act instills, coming together to ask difficult questions, and lifting up all people in our community who are hurting.

Statement from the Dean of UNC School of Denstistry:
Dear Carolina School of Dentistry Students, Faculty and Staff,
We are heartbroken and grief-stricken by last night’s devastating news, the incredible loss to our school and to the entire Carolina Community. One of the shooting victims killed at an off-campus condominium complex has been identified as second-year dental student Deah Barakat. His wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and his wife’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were also killed in the shooting. Yusor was recently admitted as a member of the incoming DDS Class of 2019. Razan was a sophomore at N.C. State University.
Deah was especially close to those of us at the School of Dentistry. A member of DDS 2017, Deah was known for his kindness, service-driven heart, love of basketball and his sincerity. A native of Raleigh, Deah earned his bachelor’s in business administration from N.C. State in 2013 prior to being admitted into our dental program. Deah was involved in many aspects of our dental school – including research with the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, serving as a co-president of the new Dental Student Ambassadors group and leading the charge for a dental mission trip to Turkey. He was well loved and respected within these walls, and we will feel his loss deeply.
Deah and Yusor were newlyweds, just recently married in December. Yusor, as many of you know, worked with the North Carolina Missions of Mercy clinics – like many of you did and continue to do – prior to her admission to dental school. We were all looking forward to getting to know her as a member of the UNC dental family beginning in April, and we grieve her loss as well.
This is an incredible tragedy for our school, the dental community and the University. Today, everyone here is grieving. Our deepest sympathy goes out to their families and friends.
We encourage students to call Counseling and Psychological Services (919) 966-3658 for additional support; counseling resources are available for students overnight by contacting (919) 966-2281. Faculty and staff may contact our Employee Assistance Program at (877) 314-5841.
This is a terrible shock, and all of us at the school are grieving together.  If there is anything we can do to assist you, please don’t hesitate and let us know.
Jane A. Weintraub
Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor


Statement from members of the clergy in Chapel Hill:
As leaders of faith communities in Chapel Hill, we deplore the senseless killing of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, and we share in the profound grief of their families. An attack on any of God’s children, our sisters and brothers, is an attack on us all. We renew our pledge to continue the vital work of fostering mutual understanding and respect that cross all lines of difference.
Mark Coulter, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Mark Davidson, Church of Reconciliation
Robert E. Dunham, University Presbyterian Church
Jill Edens and Richard Edens, United Church of Chapel Hill
Carl King, University United Methodist Church
Stephen Elkins-Williams, Chapel of the Cross
Will Rose, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
H. Mitchell Simpson, University Baptist Church
Mark Acuff, The Gathering Church
Rabbi Jen Feldman, Kehillah Synagogue
Thomas Nixon, St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Statement from UNC Chancellor Carol Folt:
It is with profound sadness that I write to you this morning about the tragic loss of three young people from our community. As most of you likely have heard, last night there was a shooting at a condominium complex near campus that took their lives all too soon. Sadly, Deah Barakat, a student in the School of Dentistry, and his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, who had planned to begin her dental studies at Carolina next fall, were killed, along with Yusor’s sister, Razan Abu-Salha, an undergraduate at North Carolina State University.This is a tremendous loss to the Carolina and N.C. State campuses, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families, fellow students, faculty and friends of these three very promising students. Deah and Yusor, who both were from Raleigh and graduated recently from N.C. State, had just been married and were preparing for careers that had so much potential to help others. Razan, a sophomore from Raleigh, was majoring in environmental design in architecture at N.C. State.The Chapel Hill Police Department have charged an individual, and the University is cooperating fully with police in the investigation. Police have reassured the community that there is no ongoing threat in connection with this tragedy. In addition, Chapel Hill police said their preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking, but continues to investigate and exhaust every lead to determine if this was hate-motivated. Please know that our highest priority is the safety and security of students, faculty, staff and visitors on Carolina’s campus and in the surrounding community. I would like to thank the Chapel Hill Police Department and first responders for their hard work on this investigation.Such an act of violence goes against the very fiber of our community and society. It also creates a sense of vulnerability for all of us, especially members of the Muslim community. I am in touch with the Muslim community and students and will continue to be in conversation with them. While the Chapel Hill police continue to gather facts, Carolina has and will remain focused on supporting all members of our community. Plans are underway for a community vigil this evening and details will be shared this afternoon.Dean Jane Weintraub has gathered the students, faculty and staff in the School of Dentistry so they can come together during this tragedy. The University is offering on-site support and counseling for them. The greater Carolina community also has resources to help us with our grief. We encourage students to call Counseling and Psychological Services (919-966-3658), and faculty and staff to contact our Employee Assistance Program (877-314-5841), if you would like support. My gratitude goes to all of you for your understanding and kindness as our community draws strength from one another at this very difficult time.Sincerely,Carol L. Folt, Chancellor

CHPD To Patrol Crosswalks In February: Bike And Pedestrian Safety

This month, Chapel Hill Police will continue monitoring specific streets and crosswalks throughout town, as part of their ongoing initiative to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety.

On Wednesday, February 4, from 8:45-9:45 a.m., officers will be near campus, monitoring the area around Country Club Road, Boundary Street and Battle Lane. On Thursday at the same time, officers will be posted on Columbia Street at the UNC Health Sciences Building.

Next Tuesday, February 10, officers will monitor South Columbia Street between Franklin Street and Cameron Avenue, also from 8:45-9:45 in the morning. Then on Tuesday, February 24, from 7:30-8:30 a.m., officers will be stationed on Raleigh Road at Glen Lennox.

It’s all to make sure drivers, bikers and pedestrians are following the rules of the road, especially around crosswalks. Officers may cite violations, including drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk or pedestrians who cross against the signals. Fines and court costs for those violations may cost you more than $200.

Those police patrols are part of a much larger initiative the Town is undertaking to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety.

For more information on how to stay safe on the roads (for drivers, bikers and pedestrians), visit this page on the town’s website.

If you’d like to share your concerns about bike and pedestrian safety with the Town of Chapel Hill – including specific areas where safety is a particular issue – visit this page.


Chapel Hill Man Arrested For Cocaine

Wednesday afternoon in Pittsboro, U.S. Marshals arrested a man wanted in Chapel Hill on multiple charges of dealing cocaine.

29-year-old Justin Hardy has been charged with six counts each of felony cocaine possession and possession with intent to sell. The Chapel Hill PD issued a warrant for Hardy on December 30 following a narcotics investigation. Hardy was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force, after they pulled over a vehicle in which he was suspected of being a passenger.

The full statement from the U.S. Marshals Service is below:

Pittsboro, NC – Yesterday afternoon at 12:15 PM, Justin Demond Hardy, a 29 year old, Black Male, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force (JFTF). On December 30, 2014, warrants were issued by the Chapel Hill Police Department charging Hardy with Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Cocaine (six counts) and Felony Possession of Cocaine (six counts).

The warrants were obtained after the Chapel Hill Police Department conducted a narcotics investigation in which Hardy was suspected of selling the illegal drugs. The warrants allege that Hardy sold the cocaine on six separate occasions. 

After conducting surveillance in the area, JFTF was able to positively identify Hardy as a passenger in a vehicle. A traffic stop of the vehicle was conducted and Hardy was taken into custody without incident.

The U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force for the Middle District of North Carolina is comprised of investigators from the U.S. Marshals Service, Chapel Hill Police Department, Durham Police Department, Greensboro Police Department, High Point Police Department, Winston-Salem Police Department, Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Department of Community Corrections – Probation & Parole. For more information you can go to www.usmarshals.gov.


Missing Chapel Hill Man Found Safe After Silver Alert

UPDATE: Mr. Glenn has been located and is safe, according to Town of Chapel Hill officials.

The NC Center for Missing Persons had issued a Silver Alert for Martin Alexander Glenn, of Chapel Hill.

Martin Alexander Glenn is a 39-year-old white male, 6’2″ and 195 pounds with brown eyes and short brown hair, last seen wearing a gray jacket and dark blue jeans. He was last seen Saturday, January 10, on Mt. Carmel Church Road.

Martin Alexander Glenn


“We Have Work To Do”: NAACP Hosts Police Chiefs, Sheriff

In the wake of the events of Ferguson, Missouri, a national debate has erupted over policing in local communities: are racial minorities unfairly targeted, and if so, what should police departments be doing to address that issue?

On Saturday, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP welcomed Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue, Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton, and Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood for a two-hour forum on policing here in Orange County, with topics ranging from the role of police in schools to the use of deadly force.

Listen to Aaron Keck’s full story on WCHL.


Listen to Saturday’s forum in its entirety (approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes long). Additional highlights from the forum can be found below.


“The events that we’ve experienced in other parts of the country have made it clear that we have work to do in our own community,” said Diane Robertson, who moderated Saturday’s forum at the Rogers Road Community Center. About 50 people packed the room, including several elected officials.

At issue was the question of “implicit bias” in policing: do police officers unfairly target racial minorities, even without intending to? Blue, Horton and Blackwood all reiterated that their officers don’t intentionally discriminate.

“I think if you show raw data to the officers – which we have – they’ll say, ‘man, I’m surprised by those numbers, it doesn’t feel like it would be skewed,'” Chief Blue said. “I know for folks out there in the community it feels very obvious that it’s skewed, but for those officers, I don’t think there’s intentional effort to skew the data one way or the other.”

Chief Horton agreed. “When I was on patrol, I didn’t look at the race of the person I was stopping, I was looking at the car – if a tag was out, I’d stop the car for a violation – and I’m pretty sure that’s how it is now,” he said.

“We want to do the right thing,” Sheriff Blackwood added. “I don’t think anybody puts the uniform on with an evil heart.”

Diane Robertson questions the panelists. From L-R: Walter Horton, Chris Blue, Charles Blackwood.

Diane Robertson questions the panelists. From L-R: Walter Horton, Chris Blue, Charles Blackwood.

But even if there’s no intent to discriminate, there are numbers suggesting that minorities in Orange County do get singled out. About 20 percent of the traffic stops in Orange County involve black drivers, even though only 10 percent of the population is black – and when they’re pulled over, black and Latino drivers are also 2-3 times more likely to have their vehicles searched than white drivers are in the same circumstances.

Those numbers indicate a serious issue in our community – even if the cause, or the solution, isn’t as obvious.

Stephanie Perry (in attendance) discusses implicit bias with Sheriff Blackwood, arguing that officers will “congregate” in low-income or majority-black neighborhoods.


Sheriff Blackwood responds to Perry (in the most heated moment of the forum): of vehicles searched in Orange County last year, he says, 23 were driven by black drivers and 20 were driven by white drivers.


Diane Robertson replies to Blackwood: “(That) might seem almost 50/50, but that’s not the population breakdown.”


“We’re scratching our head about some of the same data,” Chief Blue said. “If I could figure out exactly why those disparities are happening, I would take action immediately, but I’m not sure either.”

Chief Blue says the CHPD will bring in trainers this year to help officers recognize and deal with implicit bias.


But all three police chiefs said they were committed to addressing the issue and improving the quality of policing in Orange County – in a variety of different ways. Many of those efforts are already ongoing: Sheriff Blackwood said his department is beginning to reward officers who speak a second language; Chief Blue said the Chapel Hill PD documents and reviews every single use of force by an officer; and Chief Horton spoke of community policing and similar efforts to improve communication between officers and citizens.

Chief Horton discusses the importance of communication.


And all three emphasized the importance of CIT, or Crisis Intervention Training, as an effective tool for training officers to de-escalate tense situations.

Chief Blue discusses the CHPD’s goal with respect to the CIT program.


Sheriff Blackwood describes a recent incident where an officer’s CIT training helped resolve a dangerous situation.


In addition to programs already in effect, Chiefs Blue and Horton both said they were hoping to roll out a body camera program in the next fiscal year.

Chief Blue discusses the benefits (and possible challenges) of body cameras.


And all of those efforts have had some positive effects. For one, Chief Blue says there’s been a steady decrease in the number of times his officers have had to use force.

“Those continue to trend down,” he said Saturday. “We investigate every single complaint we receive, and we require – even if we don’t get a complaint – any time an officer uses force, we document every single (instance). And those numbers are trending down.”

But while that statistic is promising, the larger issue persists. Sheriff Blackwood said it’s important for all of us to highlight our similarities rather than our differences: “I was always taught that when you take our skin off, we’re the same color; there is no difference, we’re human beings first.”

Sheriff Blackwood discusses the process of training for when to use and when not to use deadly force – a question that, for him, hits very close to home.


But moderator Robertson responded that there’s still a gap between that ideal and everyday reality. “We may be all the same on the inside, but we’re not all the same on the outside,” she said, “and I think the concern is that that’s having an effect on how people are being treated.”

And Chief Blue added that that gap generates mistrust, where officers and citizens can begin to suspect each other even when no one is doing anything wrong.

Chief Blue describes a “powerful phone call” he received recently from a resident.


The issues raised at Saturday’s forum will likely take years to address, if not longer. Chief Blue said his department is doing a great deal to tackle the problem – but it’s an ongoing project.

“This implicit bias stuff is tough,” he said. “Over two years ago we began a process of quarterly analysis of every single traffic stop by an officer, (requiring) supervisors to certify to me that they’ve had a conversation about their data…and that’s enabled us to have some important conversations, and I believe it’s laid the foundation for some of this implicit-bias training that we’re going to do…

“However, it’s very hard to know what’s in someone’s heart. We all bring bias into every encounter…so being able to talk about it together is, in my mind, the only way to bring it to a level of consciousness where you can feel bias creeping in and take some action in response.”

And insofar as we in Orange County are not immune from bias – and insofar as we are all human, as Sheriff Blackwood observed – our community is also not immune from the issues that sparked such a national outcry last year.

“This community really isn’t that far from Ferguson,” said Robertson. “That is, I think, why people are here today.”