What is Raleigh Police Department's Proactive Patrol and is it effective?

Jamiese Price Image
Thursday, January 26, 2023
What is Raleigh Police Department's Proactive Patrol and is it effective?
Officers were conducting a Proactive Patrol on January 17, which ended with the death of Darryl Williams in southeast Raleigh.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said officers were conducting a "proactive patrol," on January 17, which brought them face-to-face with 32-year-old Darryl Williams in a parking lot off Rock Quarry Road, in Southeast Raleigh.

Williams died in Raleigh Police custody after being tased multiple times by officers.

VIDEO: Surveillance from night Darryl Williams died in police custody

VIDEO: Surveillance from night Darryl Williams died in police custody

Raleigh Police also identified the location as a high-crime area.

Diana Powell is the executive director of Justice Served NC and a community activist in Raleigh agreed with police that the area of town where Williams died in police custody is considered high crime. "It doesn't take rocket science to drive down our streets and see what's happening," said Powell.

She said elderly people have made complaints to the police about potential criminal activity in that particular area. "We're not blind." Powell continued.

RPD explained the department's proactive patrol as a proven way to supplement 911 community calls for service to deter crime and increase the safety in the community. Officers conduct these patrols in locations where the public requests their presence due to repeated crime incidents and quality of life concerns.

These patrols include:

-Traffic enforcement on roadways that have had a history of crashes and pedestrian fatalities

-Visible security checks in areas with a pattern of burglaries

-Presence around schools, greenways, and parks

-Foot patrols around commercial areas during non-business hours

-DWI prevention projects during weekends and evenings

But it doesn't clearly explain why officers approached Williams parked car in the first place.

"We gotta call a spade a spade," said Kerwin Pittman at a press conference this week that addressed William's death while in the custody of the Raleigh Police Department.

Pittman is also a social justice activist in North Carolina. He said active patrolling is racial profiling in marginalized communities. "It's finding an excuse to stop minorities in minority communities," he continued.

Pittman described Raleigh Police's Proactive Patrol as the next version of Stop and Frisk, a controversial policing practice that some law enforcement agencies considered a crime prevention tool.

Data from the ACLU found that in New York where Stop and Frisk, was prominent, Black people were stopped at a rate nearly 8x greater than white people, and Latinx people were stopped at a rate 5x greater.

I asked Powell if she agreed, that Raleigh Police Department's Proactive Patrol was similar to Stop and Frisk.

" It could be. It could be," she said.

Where is the balance between keeping communities safe with patrol to deter crime and over-policing marginalized communities? "We have had those conversations for some time now but I think about that often. You can't have it both ways, but we just got to find a middle ground," continued Powell.

Chet Epperson a former police chief in Rockford, Illinois echoed Powell. "I think there's a middle ground," he said.

Epperson has nearly 40 years of law enforcement and 10 of those were as police chief. He's now a law enforcement consultant. Epperson said police departments need to communicate their mission and message behind their proactive approach in a way that the community understands

"What the police don't do a good job on is effectively communicate what their mission is. How are we going to go about policing in in areas of the city where there's mistrust, gotta get the stakeholders at the table, and the police have to have those conversations," he said.