An outside consultant’s report on race relations within the Asheville Police Department is being called “amateurish” by a City Council member and a “betrayal of trust” by City Manager Gary Jackson. And a Virginia-based consulting firm is separating itself from the report as well.
Jackson announced over the weekend that he wants a further investigation into the APD, but denied that the request was triggered by allegations in the report, which was released on Saturday to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
(Click here to download a PDF file of the report.)
“Our decision to do an investigation was based on a desire to do a professional, balanced and factual assessment of the situation,” Jackson says. “The way this report plays into that is that it is a betrayal of trust by a trainer we had invited here to do that kind of assessment.”
Lt. Anthony Franklin of the Richmond, Va., police department came to Asheville May 22 as a representative of the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation to conduct diversity training at the APD. According to Jackson, Franklin was asked to write up his findings regarding racial issues within the force, which he said he would do at an an extra cost of $2,700. That money, Jackson said, came out of APD funds.
The report criticizes the department for passing over African-American officers for promotion and having a poor relationship with the African-American community at large. Rife with spelling and and grammar errors, the report also appears to lack quality research and insight, said Jackson. And its scope and methodology disappointed Jackson and at least one City Council member.
“It was very biased and very slanted in my opinion,” said Jan Davis, who also characterized the report as “amateurish.”
“But that’s not to say we don’t have a problem,” he added.
Jackson would not comment as to whether the city would take action to recoup the money spent on the report.
Lynda O’Connell, executive director for the VCPI, acknowledges that Franklin was contracted to perform the May training session, but said the report was done independent of the organization.
“I had no idea until this morning that he was working on such a project,” she said. “He did that completely independent of VCPI.”
O’Connell said she had read the report, but would not give her reaction except to say, “we didn’t know about it, we don’t endorse it, we don’t even recognize it.”
— Brian Postelle, staff writer