High Point Enterprise Newspaper Archives Oct 13 1974, Page 55

Low-resolution version. To view a high quality image

Start Free Trial
High Point Enterprise (Newspaper) - October 13, 1974, High Point, North Carolina Police probe hearings in review testimony reveals Force is plagued by mismanagement Rac and ice on n. Main Street Center of testimony in police probe staff photo by Art Richardson the High Point Enterprise sunday morning october 13, 1974. Section d by Robert Marks Enterprise associate editor High Point is deluged this weekend with revelations about its police department. As if a dam had burst a flood of testimony poured from witnesses last week about ineffectual leadership in the department dissension in the department moral decay in the department and deterioration in Law enforcement in High Point. The testimony came in Public hearings being conducted by City Council in its investigation of the police department. The setting was the courtroom on the third floor of the City county building. From last tuesday afternoon through last Friday afternoon. Council heard testimony from about 40 witnesses about alleged wrongdoing and administrative problems in the police department. The witnesses included police officers former officers with the police department and private citizens. Most were subpoenaed to testify All testified under oath. Repeatedly testimony pointed to a pattern of toleration if not outright acceptance of apparently organized and big time gambling in High Point particularly during the major Spring and fall furniture markets each year. Not Only is there gambling but prostitution and widespread violations of the liquor Laws Are allowed witnesses indicated. The police department itself witnesses said is riddled by favouritism divided by cliques and factionalism and weakened by Low morale and morals. Old controversies were recalled a the a theft ring scandal in the summer of 1972, the hearings that followed before the civil service commission and in District court the investigation into the murder of Bonnie Lynn Gallimore in november 1972. Central figures in the flow of testimony Are police chief Laurie Pritchett and Perry t. Hatcher two men who came to High Point at about the same time nearly eight years ago and who Are now being pictured according to testimony As linked in crime a Hatcher As the operator of big time gambling interests in High Point and Pritchett As his protector in the Law. Hatcher was present in the courtroom every Day during the hearings last week. Pritchett was not. He was undergoing treatment at Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem for late in starting the hearings were a Long time in getting started. There had been Calls for an investigation of the police department in May 1972, when criminal charges were brought against six officers for their alleged participation in a a theft ring Quot operating within the department. Six other officers were dismissed for supposedly having knowledge of the existence of the ring. Subsequently however four of the dismissed officers were ordered reinstated by the civil service commission after hearing appeals from their dismissals. The two other officers did not Appeal. Then in District court charges against the six other officers were dismissed for Lack of evidence. In the fall of 1972. Council contracted with the International Assn of chiefs of police for a study of the police department. The study made at a Cost of $18,600. Was submitted to Council in the Spring of 1973. It was mostly an evaluation of management and administrative procedures within the police department generally its conclusions praised the department and its leadership it did not however Point out the existence of a a favouritism Quot within the department and it called for some changes in the command Structure in the department. The i act study hardly touched on widespread reports in High Point at that time of alleged wrongdoing involving High Point police officers the police department was an Issue in the City elections in the fall of 1973. The Republican ticket for City Council headed by Paul Clapp As the candidate for mayor called for an investigation of the police Force. A Long time critic of the department and especially of Pritchett Clapp was elected mayor and on March 7 called on Council to conduct an investigation of the police department. A for Many months since the. Public exposure of a theft ring operating in our police department a in fact nearly two years a Public Confidence in the department has been shattered to say the least Quot Clapp told Council. A even before the discovery of the theft ring there were numerous rumours and accusations within our police department and it seems very Clear that things have not improved since that Clapp called for Council to make the investigation under a state Law which gives it the authority to Issue subpoenas and compel testimony under oath. His proposal was approved by Council on a vote of seven to one. Dissenting was councilwoman Rachel Gray councilman Frank Wood was absent. Clapp appointed Council members Roy Culler Arnold Kooncejr. And Bob Wells to a three Man special committee to oversee the investigation. He named Culler chairman of the committee. Last March the committee announced it had employed Greensboro attorney Luke Wright As its investigator. Wright spent most of the summer interviewing witnesses. Finally Public hearings were scheduled to begin on sept. 23, but not without More controversy. Council itself was divided Over whether Cross examination of witnesses should be allowed. It voted against Cross examination on a vote of five to four but a restraining order was served on Council Dur ing the opening session of the hearing on sept. 23 by six officers who claimed their rights were being violated. A after a hearing in Superior court in Greensboro on sept. 30, judge Julius a. Rousseau or. Ruled that Cross examination should be allowed police officers who Are implicated in criminal acts by testimony from witnesses. He also barred live radio and television coverage of the hearings. Under the new procedures ordered by judge Rousseau the hearings got under Way again last linked with Hatcher the first wave of testimony entered on Pritchett and his alleged relationship with Hatcher. Pritchett was chief of police in Albany when he was named chief of police in High Point. He assumed his duties in High Point on aug. I 1966. Hatcher according to testimony is from Columbus ga., and had some connections in Albany and in Pinehurst and Southern Pines before coming to High Point from Sanford in High Point Hatcher is Hie operator of the Bac n Cue a Bingo parlor and billiard lounge at 2904 n. Main St. He makes his Home at 300 Lansdowne in the southwestern Section of High Point. Both the Rac in Cue and 300 Lansdowne were identified in testimony by witnesses last week As places where professional and organized gambling occurred regularly. Hatcher was the first witness called by Wright to testify on sept. 23. After giving his name and address Hatcher acting on the advice of his attorney he said cited the fifth amendment in declining to answer any More questions. He also challenged the constitutionality of the state Law under which Council was conducting the hearings. Called As the second witness by Wright on sept. 23, Pritchett denied that he knew Hatcher before he came to High Point. A the rumours that i brought this Man from Albany ga., started in the department and went to City Council to a member of City Council who is not on the Council now Quot Pritchett said. A i never saw this Man before. When i heard this Rumor i found out that the army Navy Union had been drawn up in the army Navy Union is described As a private membership club operated by Hatcher a this Man lived in Columbus a More than too Miles or so away. I Learned he moved to Pinehurst from Albany and then to Sanford. He then came to High Point from Sanford. A i deny emphatically Ever knowing Perry Hatcher before Quot Pritchett said. The first time he Ever saw Hatcher to his knowledge Pritchett testified was in �?o1967 or 1968,1 can to that meeting took place Pritchett said when Hatcher came to his office at the police station to seek an application for a a family Type billiard lounge Quot on n. Main Street. A i done to recall the exact time of this meeting Quot Pritchett said. A the said he had asked for a License for a billiard lounge but had been turned Down by capt. John Staley. I said this was not his prerogative but that of City Council. A i called Staley in. He said he did not think the billiard lounge ought to be on n. Main Street. I told him to get the License Forward it to me and it would go on to conflicting testimony was offered by witnesses last week about Pritchetts relationship with Hatcher. Mrs. Mayme Gibson was Secretary to the chief of police until 1968, when she went to work for the City Parks and recreation department said Pritchett introduced Hatcher to her. A the wanted me to meet his a Good Friend Perry a she said Pritchett told her Hatcher wanted to open a a family Type place Quot in High Point. Thereafter mrs. Gibson said Hatcher visited Pritchett in the chiefs office a one or two Quot times a week. Capt. Staley testified that he had held the application Back because of what he Learned about hatchery a reputation and his police record. He read from an Fri report handed him by Wright which stated that Hatcher had been arrested three times for gambling Law violations and twice for violation of the White slavery prostitution act. The report showed Only one conviction on a charge for gambling for which Hatcher was sentenced to five Days in jail. He contacted the police chief in Sanford about Hatcher Staley said. A the chief of police there called Back and told me to Call Southern Pines. His information connected Hatcher with gambling. The Southern Pines report said Hatcher was a big time Gambler with a club there another place in South Carolina or Georgia. A i went to chief Pritchett and told him we had a Man who belonged to the Syndicate trying to move into High Point Quot Staley said. A the said a no. I know that Man from Down there. He is trying to Start a family place Here. Finally in july 1967, Staley said he wrote on hatchery a application a chief Pritchett told capt. Staley he knows this Man and he is the application subsequently was routinely approved by City attorney Knox Walker on behalf of City manager Harold Cheek. Testimony indicated that both Cheek and Pritchett were out of town at the particular time. It. L. J. Boyd testified that Hatcher came to High Point a somewhere around 1967 or 1968�?T�?T and that Pritchett had sent him on an errand to the n. Main Street site where the building now occupied by the Rac in Cue was under construction. A the told me to Tell the Foreman on the building that a Man was coming in a White Cadillac a or. Hatcher and that the Foreman was to Tell Hatcher to Call chief Pritchett explained to him later that this message had something to do with the realtor handling the building a something to do with the permit Quot it. Boyd aware of rumours in his testimony on sept. 23, Pritchett said he was aware of rumours about illegal games at the Rac in Cue. He said he also heard various rumours about the Emerywood country club and the Moose Lodge. A in april 1969, i received information about gambling going on at the Rac in Cue Quot Pritchett said. A i went to the City manager and told him i knew the City was dependent on the furniture Market but we would enforce the Law. A i then went to the office of or. George Covington director of the chamber of Commerce. I then advised him concerning the reported activities. I knew the City was dependent on the furniture Market. This was on wednesday before Friday. A i told or. Covington he should Contact Fum Sturemen everybody to stay away from the Rac in Cue. A i will get the word out a or. Covington Pritchett read a letter from Covington in which Covington recalled the meeting with Pritchett and said he Felt the matter was handled Quot in the Best interests of the Only time anyone has been arrested for illegal gambling at the Rac in Cue was in november 1970, when the place was raided by High Point police officer j. W. Haas. Charges were brought against four persons including Hatcher and his wife for illegal Bingo operations. In District court the charges were nol pressed or prayer for judgment was continued with payment of costs. Pritchett testified he congratulated officer Haas for making the raid. A then i pointed out a mistake. He did not notify a Captain or anyone in command that in his testimony Haas who is now pastor of Archdale Baptist Church said he did not notify a Superior officer in Advance about the raid a because i did t want the word to get Back to the police department. I did t Trust testimony about gambling at the Rac in Cue and what seemed to be police indifference toward stopping it came from other witnesses. Linda Collins testified she worked at the Rac in Cue for about three weeks in the latter part of 1968. She said she saw chips and Money on tables in a Back room where men were playing cards. She said she had seen uniformed police officers in the room when she had delivered cards there. One time she observed a Man from the Back whose colouring and build matched that of chief Pritchett miss Collins said. She said she believed she could make positive identification from a scar on the right rear of the Many a neck. Dallas Spainhour a former state Abc agent testified that he made three visits to the Rac in Cue in 1968 As an undercover agent and had observed gambling paraphernalia and gambling at the place. On his third trip to the club Spainhour said he managed to join a poker game in the backroom and lost $29. He submitted a detailed report to his superiors Spainhour said. Frank Dunbar who was the state Abc agent in High Point at the time was sent a copy of the report with instructions to Pritchett about what Spainhour had observed. He told Pritchett of the report and said the Abc agent was ready to testify but nothing was Ever done Dunbar said. A former police officer David Hartley testified he had joined the Rac in Cue during 1968-69 without letting his superiors know what he was doing. He said he collected evidence of gambling in the club including pictures of gaming equipment but was unable to interest anyone in what he found. Pritchett told him the club was being watched and that he should be wary of rumours about the club Hartley said. He stated that Pritchett told him to report anything he heard to him. A i did give him some names and now in a sorry i did Quot Hartley said. He did not take his information to any member of the City Council Hartley said because he had no idea who could be trusted. Ray Hussey sales manager for Jimmy Malpass Auto sales testified he had observed gambling when he was at the Rac in Cue in october 1967, looking for a furniture dealer who had leased an automobile. Hussey said he managed to get into the backroom. A they had two card games going there was Money on the table. Over to the right some sort of Dice game or wheel game was going. I have never seen something like that before in this part of the country. The Only time i had seen something like that was when i was in the Marine corps in det. Sgt. Billy Rich testified he had been told by Clapp then a member of Council that police it. Shaw Cooke had been observed in uniform checking passes at the Back door to the Rac in Cue. When he testified thursday afternoon capt. O. H. Leak said he had heard rumours about the Rac in Cue but had never taken any interest in the place. A i would say that there has been enough evidence on this stand if you believe it that the Rac in Cue ought to be closed Quot leak said. Council members asked Why the police take such action. Leak promised to see what could be done about pad Locking the Rac in on Lansdowne witnesses were also questioned about reports of alleged gambling at 300 Lansdowne hatchery a Home. Pritchett testifying on sept. 23, said he personally participated in a surveillance of the Lansdowne residence during the fall furniture Market in october 1970. He made the surveillance with it. Charles Cagle and it. T. A Ham Mitt Pritchett said. A we parked on see testimony on 20 hearings continue monday by Forrest Cates Enterprise City editor hearings into alleged misdeeds within the High Point police dept wiil resume monday with Little Prospect of an Early conclusion. Approximately 40 witnesses have testified since the hearings resumed tuesday following the lifting of a court injunction. Well Over too people have been subpoenaed by Luke Wright the City Council hired investigator. After he completes the presentation of his findings persons who have been incriminated by testimony will have the Chance to make rebuttal. There is no Way to estimate How Long that will take. There had been talk among councilmen of concluding the hearings by wednesday or certainly before the fall furniture Market opens Friday. It appears now however that the hearings May go into the next week while the Market will be in Progress. That could complicate matters for members of the Council who have business connections with the furniture Industry. One councilman who is presiding Over the hearings Roy Culler already has indicated that he will be absent from the wednesday session to attend a business meeting. He is president of National upholstery co. He had to leave the Friday session about an hour Early. Councilman Bob Wells presided in his absence. The Council will return next week to its original meeting schedule a afternoon and evening sessions. The hearings will shift from the third floor courtroom at the City county building to the courtroom directly below on the second floor. The second floor room is slightly smaller than the third floor room which seats about 300 people. A criminal session of Superior court is slated to Start monday on the third floor. A session of District court is slated for the room on the second floor but judge Elreta Alexander has agreed to relinquish the room to the Council at 2 . The Council hearings Are to begin at 2 30 ., adjourn for a supper break at 5 30 and resume at 7 . To continue until 9 The courtroom presumably will be available on that schedule for the entire week according to Culler. He said that he will look into prospects of having one Allday session. The hearings were resumed tuesday on the afternoon evening schedule but went into an All Day session on thursday and a morning Only session on Friday. The Council has been hearing witnesses at the rate of about to a Day. The Council members themselves Are prolonging the time that witnesses remain on the stand. At the Start of the hearings the councilmen asked relatively few questions of witnesses. In the later sessions nearly All members took advantage of their turns at interrogating witnesses. Significant testimony sometimes has been brought out by these interrogations. Spectators filled the hearing room for nearly All sessions last week. For the most part they were orderly. Culler used his Gavel Only twice during the week. On several occasions the audience applauded statements by witnesses

Search all High Point, North Carolina newspaper archives

Explore other publications from High Point, North Carolina

All newspaper archives for October 13, 1974