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ENGSTROMLAW,PLLC

CONTACT

ElliotEngstrom
EngstromLaw,PLLC
(336)3658570
info@engstomlawnc.com
www.engstromlawnc.com

FORIMMEDIATERELEASE

StatementofEllenDeitzTuckerandDanDeitzon
PartialReleaseofInvestigativeReportintoBelmont
PoliceDepartment

Aug.29,2016

Greensboro Ellen Deitz Tucker and Dan Deitz, plaintiffs in the matter of
Deitz v. Belmont, have released the following statement on the courtordered
disclosure of portions of an investigative report into the Belmont Police
Department:

The few pages released from the ISS report on the Belmont Police shed a
vividlightonproblemsthatbesettheentiredepartment.Thereportfound

. . . the BPD to be a fractured organization with a corrosive work


environment in which employees have been drawn into two camps,
whichare constantly inopposition based onpersonal loyalties. Policies
andproceduralguidelinesareroutinelyignoredorcircumvented.

The report identified apparent violations of the Belmont Police Department


written directives, city policies and the law. It stated that instead of one
allegation of misconduct or a single complainant there were dozens. The
issues were massiveandcouldeasilycontinuetocreateproblemswithinthe
department.

It was becausewe fearedtheBPDwas dysfunctionalthat wepushed the city


toreleasethereport.

We never expected the report touncoverfactsaboutthepursuitthatledtothe


deaths of our sisterand Kevin Loftin. We hadhired a private investigator who
established those facts. Hefoundconvincingevidencethattheman whofleda
checkpoint on February 22, 2012 had not committed the crimes Belmont

ENGSTROMLAWinfo@engstromlawnc.comwww.engstromlawnc.com

Police said he had. He was not driving drunk, did not drive through the
checkpoint without stopping, anddid not aim hiscarat an officer. His offense
was that he lacked a drivers license. When asked to pull over his car, he
panicked anddroveontoI85 instead. He was a felon onprobationand knew
thatdrivingwithoutalicensewouldbeenoughtosendhimbacktoprison.

His impulse decision, and the BPDs decision tochasehim notonlyonto the
interstate but also off ofit, intothe busyintersectionat highways74 and 273,
resulted in the crash that killed Donna and Kevin. What began as a minor
offense became a case of seconddegree murderassooftenhappenswhen
policepursueinsteadofwaitingtoarrestatrafficviolatorlater.

But evenafterthismanwassentenced,Belmontpolicecontinuedtoinsistthat
they chased him because he tried to assault anofficer.Itis easierto hide an
error than to evaluate what went wrong and learn from it. Yet in any
responsible law enforcement agency, an honest appraisal of mistakes is
essentialtobotheffectivenessandpublicsafety.

The released portions of the ISS report suggest that the Belmont Police
Department had become even more dysfunctional than we feared. Themost
alarmingdetailwasthis:

ISS investigators recovered a missing Vice and Narcotics Asset


Recovery notebook from 2002. . . . It references criminal case files,
drugs purchases, and confidential informants information,allof which.
. . should be kept confidential and never removed from a secured
location.

Adepartmentin which suchamistakecouldgounnoticedfortwelveyearshas


forgottennotonlyitsownpoliciesbutalsopublicsafetyandlawitself.

Theauthors of thereport recommendeda totalreorganization oftheBPDand


a complete revision of the general orders manual that defines policies and
procedures. They recommended giving officersmore inservicetraining anda
clear sense of their roles and duties. They also pointed out thatthe Belmont
Policereceivelowerpayatalllevelsthanotherpoliceinthearea.

Citizens should make sure that the recommended reforms occur. In order to
hire and retain effective, conscientious officers, they should also fund a pay
raise.

Our family thanks Jonathan Jones of the North Carolina Open Government
Coalition for referring us tothe Civitas Institute, whobroughttheopenrecords
suit on our behalf. We are deeply grateful to Civitas and to Attorney Elliot
Engstrom, who argued our case. Convinced that the transparency of
government is the best guarantee of its integrity, we applaud all those who
worktopromoteopengovernmentinNorthCarolina.

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ENGSTROMLAWinfo@engstromlawnc.comwww.engstromlawnc.com