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Regarding Chief Bergamine

On 10 January 2012, I sent an email to all Fayetteville City Council members. In that email I shared my thoughts regarding the treatment of Chief Tom Bergamine and the Fayetteville Police Department during the ongoing consent search debate.

Council Members, I just finished reading a zillion Observer articles where people are saying citizens have lost confidence in Chief Bergamine and the Fayetteville Police Department. The comments are also replete with conclusions that racism is at work in the department. Let the record be clear, I am not to be counted among those who have a trust or confidence issue with the Chief or his department. I have tremendous respect and appreciation for Bergamine and the members of his department. I believe, as is too often the case, Council is hearing from a vocal minority whose efforts do absolutely nothing by way of addressing the real problems of black citizens (that is, high unemployment/under-employment, tremendous black male incarceration rates, far too many fatherless homes, less than acceptable educational performance, a dangerous shift in values, and so on.) Further, in none of those articles or in an “attack” radio show on WIDU the other day did I see or hear a single reference to why Chief Bergamine supports consent searches. It is all about how he is so wrong and will not bend in his position. Beyond that, as a black man who grew up in South Georgia during the Civil Rights Movement and graduated from the same undergrad college as Martin King Jr., I am beyond tired of people so loosely accusing others of being racist without having to produce one bit of factual proof. The reference to South Georgia and the Movement is to say I know something about real racism. On King, my experience at Morehouse College and some knowledge of King’s work and thinking convince me that he would be appalled to know that people would declare others racist based on a single statistic (searches of blacks vs. whites). Consequently, I contend the Chief and his force are being treated unfairly. Finally, I assess people on what they do in the “trenches” when there are no reporters and no cameras. (The same rule applies in my self-assessments.) I have had a chance to watch Chief Bergamine and some members of his department in the trenches. They come through, without guns or other crime-fighting equipment, in areas that make a positive difference in the lives of people. It is obvious to me that the primary contributor to the desperate state of our world is that there are far too few people who operate in the mold of Chief Bergamine and these other unselfish “trenchers.”

Thanks for hearing me. Karl Merritt

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