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Editorial: 9 questions for David Wray

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Greensboro faces significant challenges, including rising gang activity and resurgent crime overall, unresolved distrust between whites and blacks, new tensions between native-born residents and immigrants, a faltering economy, depressed wages and impending layoffs. In a fire-at-will state, none of us can take our jobs for granted.

So more than two years on, why is a personnel matter involving a prominent former city employee named David Wray absorbing all of our energy when more pressing matters go neglected? And why has the demand for transparency exclusively focused on the city, while Wray has hidden behind a sympathetic biographer and a handful of vocal bloggers? Transparency requires more than speaking to friendly media outlets, issuing written statements, and concluding press conferences without taking questions from reporters. Since his resignation, David Wray has never granted YES! Weekly an interview. Here’s where we would start if we could talk to him:

• Why didn’t you inform City Manager Mitchell Johnson and others with a need to know that arrested drug dealers Elton Turnbull and Sean Watson were unable to provide any information that indicated Lt. James Hinson was criminally linked to drug organizations – which they had an incentive to do because it would have helped them reduce their sentences – and that the surveillance of Hinson was prompted solely by administrative issues such as whether he patronized prostitutes or cheated on reporting his work hours?

• When investigators are unable to develop credible evidence of corruption within the ranks, at what point do you close the case, clear the officers under scrutiny and redirect your resources to cases that will result in criminal indictments and administrative action?

• When Deputy Chief Brady brought to your attention a photographic lineup containing photographs of 19 black Greensboro police officers had been created at the request of Detective Scott Sanders, why did you not immediately inform the city manager? Did you investigate the purpose and use of this document? If not, why not?

• Two white officers have been indicted for alleged offenses related to unauthorized intrusion against Fulmore, a black officer, and for interfering in the work of two other black officers. Should you have imposed greater oversight over the special intelligence unit?

• Deputy Chief Randall Brady asked Detective Scott Sanders to gather information that would lead to the removal of a troublesome neighbor of yours, even suggesting that Sanders resort to fabrication of evidence, if necessary. Did you know about the assignment, and did you approve it?

• North Carolina law clearly required the city of Greensboro to provide supporting audit materials related to Project Homestead in response to public records request by two newspapers. Yet you displayed defiance of a determination by City Attorney Linda Miles and Johnson, your direct supervisor, that the records would have to be released? Why did you propose to violate the laws of North Carolina and defy your supervisor?

• You allegedly told members of the command staff that you made several decisions – including promoting a black woman to assistant chief, for diversity reasons, closing down a police shooting range and moving bomb squad personnel – at the city manager’s direction. Johnson said he never told you to take these actions. Why did you tell members of command staff that these directives were handed down from the city manager?

• The police department was officially reprimanded by the NC Criminal Justice Education and Standards Commission because cadets were allowed to take comprehensive exams before completing required training skills tests, and the department is subject to a pending investigation because top instructors did not receive evaluations. How did this slip through the cracks?

• Officer Julius Fulmore alleges that Sgt. Craig McMinn ordered the destruction of some 50 boxes of files related to the Klan-Nazi killings. If Fulmore’s allegation is true, who gave McMinn the order to destroy the files, and why was this done at a time when a citizens group, the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, sought answers about the killings?

The truth comes out when powerful people engage in a give and take, and allow for follow-up questions.

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