Durham leaders seek police accountability after delay reporting sex assault case

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — It took more than a week for Durham police to notify the community that they believed a man was using an ice cream truck to lure children and then sexually assault them, and now city council members are saying police need to be held accountable.

“I can honestly say I felt numb, then that numbness turned to anger than the anger turned to sadness, and not sadness for me, but my baby,” said the mother of one of the victims.

CBS North Carolina is not using her name to protect her child’s identity.

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On Nov. 3 at 5:40 p.m., Durham police notified the community they needed help tracking down Isam Rahmah, who they said was wanted for multiple sexual assaults.

A few hours later, that same day, Rahmah turned himself in to police.

But CBS North Carolina discovered police heard from parents about the incidents more than a week before the public was notified. Police were notified on Oct. 25 by one parent, and another parent came forward on Nov. 1.

This isn’t the first time we’ve asked Durham police about a delay in notifying the public.

Back in July Durham police waited five days to notify the community two children were reported missing. Within hours of that release, the boys returned home safe.

And in June, Durham police waited several days to notify the community of an armed man wanted in several kidnappings. Around the time of that incident, Durham Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said changes would happen to make sure the community was notified sooner.

CBS North Carolina went to the Durham Police Department for answers, however, we were told no one was available to speak on camera.

“I think the only thing we can do is hold the police department accountable for that,” said Durham City Council Member Eddie Davis.

Davis says he is sure there will be talks with the police department on how to cut down delays in the future.

“I think as quickly as we can let people know there is an imminent menace we need to do it quickly, I think the department needs to take a long hard look,” he said.

Durham Police Department Spokesperson Wil Glen said in a telephone interview that the delay is due to the investigation. Glen says the department must vet all information before they release anything to the public.

Police officials also made similar comments in regards to a June kidnapping investigation. However, in this most recent sexual assault case it took twice as long for police to notify the community.

Police did not give CBS North Carolina a chance to ask follow up questions into the investigation, or policy about to when the community should be notified of incidents.

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