Raleigh downtown business owners make emotional plea for more security, policing

Tom George Image
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Raleigh downtown business owners make emotional plea for more security
It comes after residents and business owners told city leaders they feel unsafe after dark after a series of incidents in the area.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Amid concerns over safety in downtown Raleigh and in the Glenwood South area, residents and business owners took their message to the City Council.

At a meeting of the public safety committee, speakers expressed their frustrations over what they say has been an increase in crime and aggressive panhandling.

"A lot of our business owners are having to clean up human feces outside of our shops, needles from our patios, and deal with folks exposing themselves inside their bars mid-afternoons," says Matt Coleman, the owner of the Davie in downtown Raleigh.

Kim Hammer, the owner of Bittersweet on Martin Street says she's thought about hiring private security.

"My staff has been spit on, my staff has been thrown up against glass windows, my staff has been sexually groped, my staff has been threatened with bricks and they have had their lives threatened on a regular basis," Hammer says.

Speaking at the safety committee, some criticized what they said has been a slow response time from Raleigh Police. Chief Estella Patterson says they are doing what they can, but it comes down to staffing and prioritizing calls that come in.

"Certainly we understand the concerns of the public, we understand the concerns of the business community, we want to utilize our officers any way we can do that, we just need more officers," Chief Patterson told ABC11.

Today, our crews saw some of the ATV patrols near the downtown transit station.

RELATED | City of Raleigh planning to hire security to help patrol downtown

Meanwhile, the city has also been considering its own private security, something the chief said she would welcome in the meantime as a 'force multiplier.'

The Department of Transportation reported they have already spoken with three companies to possibly contract security near the transit station, and that those patrols would be armed.

So far though, no final decision has been made and no funding has been allocated.

The city is also investing in more lighting in problem areas downtown so they will be safer at night.