Ferguson unrest prompts officials to review WPD practices - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Ferguson unrest prompts officials to review WPD practices

Ferguson unrest prompts officials to review WPD practices. (Source: Screen Capture / CNN Live    / MGN Online) Ferguson unrest prompts officials to review WPD practices. (Source: Screen Capture / CNN Live / MGN Online)

Wilmington leaders are looking for information on practices within the local police department in response to the recent fatal officer shooting of unarmed Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, MO.

Wilmington city council member Dr. Earl Sheridan asked for a report on the WPD's community relations, weapon usage, and diversity of the department, as well as the handling of excessive use of force cases.

Sheridan made his request Tuesday night to the city manager during the city council meeting.   

"I would like to make this request of our city manager considering the things going on in the country right now as far as Missouri, New York and some of the things that have taken place in Wilmington this past year to ask that our chief give a presentation for us before council meeting dealing with the following aspects, what is being done as far as community relations training for our police officers. I know the chief has said some new things he's talked about doing. I'd like to, it would be good for council to hear about that and the community as well. Training as far as diffusing tense or deadly situations are concerned. What kind of tactical weapons does the police force have and what is the policy on their use? Have they looked into the idea of uniform cams, as far as police officers are concerned? What is the diversity like as far as the department is concerned and the process of dealing with charges of excessive force."

Sheridan also stated the use of uniform cams. The Wilmington Police Department does in fact use body cameras to assist officers in patrol.

In his statement, Sheridan requests the department's demographics. 

Several people say the young man's shooting was racially charged. Brown, who was black, was killed Aug. 9 by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. 

The shooting sparked protests and more than a week of unrest in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb. 

Many people also believe the police force in Ferguson does not reflect the city's population.

According to USA Today, Ferguson's population is 67 percent black and 29 percent white, but only 3 of the 53 Ferguson officers are white.  

In Wilmington, however, the Wilmington Police Department's 2013 Internal Affairs Annual Report shows the department's race demographics are relatively similar to the city's.

The report shows Wilmington is almost 20 percent African American, 70 percent Caucasian and about 10 percent other.

The Wilmington Police Department's makeup is 15.7 percent African American, 80.3 percent Caucasian and 3 percent other.

WECT has reached out to the Wilmington Police Department for a response to Sheridan's request. Spokesperson Linda Rawley responded with the following:

"We are working on putting together something for the presentation for Council. That's in about two weeks. We are not prepared to do an interview today. As soon as we have finalized our presentation we will contact you." 

Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed material to this report.

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