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Criminal Investigation Requested on Police Chief

March 21, 2002

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Criminal Investigation Requested on Police Chief

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EC cops ask DA to probe record release
A number of Elizabeth City police officers have asked for a criminal investigation of their chief, District Attorney Frank Parrish said Thursday.

Parrish, who received a letter from the officers on Wednesday, refused to release a copy of the letter or divulge the officers' names without checking with them first. But he did say the letter contained "several" signatures.

The officers are requesting Parrish look into reports that Police Chief Trevor A. Hampton gave out copies of an officer's written reprimand at a March 12 press conference. Reprimands and other personnel documents are protected by North Carolina law.

Parrish said he is deciding whether to have the matter investigated, and will likely make a decision by Monday.

Hampton did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.

At the press conference, Hampton gave out copies of the reprimand he issued to Capt. Mervin Raby on Aug. 31, 2001.

Raby's name was blacked out and the words "police supervisor" written in, but obscuring Raby's name is not enough to allow release of the reprimand, said a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's Office.

By state law, the reprimand could only be released to the public if Raby gave permission or if City Manager Steve Harrell decided it was necessary.

Raby, who retired in November 2001, has said he did not give permission for release of the reprimand. He said he has contacted a lawyer and is considering his legal options.

Harrell also said he did not give permission.

Harrell also said Hampton violated city policy by holding the press conference without giving prior notice to the manager's office.

Harrell suspended Hampton on Monday, but refused to say why. Lt. James Adams was named acting chief of the police department.

Both Hampton and a lawyer for police officers who have sued the chief have called for an investigation of the department, and, on Monday, City Council agreed to ask the U.S. Justice Department to conduct the probe.

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