Fruitful dialogue or 'stalling tactic'? Raleigh citizens and police talk community oversight board

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- On giant sheets of paper and colored markers, Raleigh citizens sat side by side with law enforcement writing up their visions on how to hold cops accountable in the city. When the talking and writing was done - the results were divided.

One of the evening's facilitators from the Raleigh Human Relations Commission described the results as, "When we talked about whether or not we needed a review board, it fell along citizens' lines. Citizens said yes. Officers said no."

Pressure continues to rise for more police accountability and a civilian oversight board since the April shooting death of Soheil Mojorrad.

The mentally ill man had a knife when he was shot eight times by an RPD officer. And while the officer was cleared of wrongdoing, the incident sparked a new uproar with new calls for a civilian oversight board that could independently investigate, subpoena evidence and witnesses and discipline officers.

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The city is hosting these community dialogues to discuss what those review boards would look like. And while activists like Kimberly Muktarian is taking part - it doesn't mean she trusts the process.

"It is a stalling tactic. We've been sitting around this for a very long time. We've been discussing this since Akiel Denkins and prior to. This is why we don't trust the police department," said Muktarian who serves as executive director of Save Our Sons.

While Raleigh City Council approved these community meetings, not everyone is on board. There were major reservations from Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

"I'm concerned about the message that this sends to our police officers who have a very difficult job," McFarlane said at the council's October session. "And I don't like sending them the message that we don't fully support them."

Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown, who has long made clear she is against the idea of a civilian oversight board, has been attending the meetings along with officers and was present for Friday's meeting as well.

The chief said, "No," she did not hear anything at the meeting to change her mind. But she added the meetings to create a useful dialogue.

"I think that both tables clearly expressed at times they don't understand and that means that there is an opportunity for both sides of the table, law enforcement and the community to make sure that understanding, dialogue and appreciation exists," Deck-Brown said.

Friday's session was the third of six meetings that will be held this month across the city. The final two will both be held in southeast Raleigh where activists point to the disproportionate amount of interactions between black citizens and Raleigh police.
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