Acting Police Chief Tandy Carter is a dues-paying member of Police Executive Research Forum, the same firm hired by the city to investigate the inner workings of Carter's department.
Some of his officers say that's a problem.
"Because even the hint of impropriety hurts," says David Hursey, President of the local Police Benevolent Association. "The whole thing was done in secret."
This is the second firm the city hired to do the outside assessment, and the second time that choice has been criticized by police organizations. In July, the council dumped a firm from Georgia because of questions about its leader's past.
This one is likely to stay, according to Wilmington's Mayor-elect.
"I trust and support the decision of the city manager," he said. "This is a qualified firm run by experts."
City Manager Sterling Cheatham would not tell us if he knew of Carter's affiliation before he recommended the firm. He did say it won't be a problem.
More than 1,100 chiefs and sheriffs are members. And the firm tells us about a third of their evaluations involve members, and the roster includes street officers and union leaders. Also, Carter is not affiliated with the branch conducting the assessment.
But hursey says there's more to it. He believes the firm, advised largely by police commanders, will recommend eliminating the civil service commission for the rank-and-file.
"We've got to do this right, "Hursey said. "The future of local law enforcement is at stake."
A spokesperson for Carter says he wasn't hiding his affiliation, and points out the city is the one paying his membership fees.
The firm, which will be paid nearly one hundred thousand dollars for its work, has already begun its evaluation. As for the Carter affiliation, it may turn out to be a moot point. Some on the city council are vowing to look outside the department for its next permanent chief.