'We have seen a change': Raleigh police come closer to community with new policy

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Thursday, August 4, 2022
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Cries for police reform echoed in communities across the country and here in the Triangle. Those cries challenged police to make changes and connect with the community at a deeper level.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cries for police reform echoed in communities across the country and here in the Triangle. Those cries challenged police to make changes and connect with the community at a deeper level.

Diana Powell, a community activist in Raleigh and Executive Director for Justice Serve NC described the past two years in the city as tense.

"It looked like a boiling pot of water with a lid on it and finally that lid came off. And it just exploded," Powell said.

Powell said since then, things have changed in Raleigh, and community-police relations have strengthened.

"Is it perfect? No. But we have seen a change," she said.

Powell said communication has improved between Raleigh Police and residents. She pointed to what will soon be Raleigh Police Department's de-escalation policy, which would require officers to consider medical conditions, mental impairment, and a language barrier when deciding if a person is not complying with commands.

"To know that they have, they are creating a policy around de-escalation. I think that gives the community a little bit more hope and understanding," said Powell.

She's also seen a push for more officers on the street. It was a request heard from several people during National Night Out on Tuesday.

"The community wants to see us. They want us visible and in their community. We get those calls all the time," Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said.

Other community leaders see it differently. Kerwin Pittman, the Director of Policy and Programming for Emancipate NC, said more work needs to be done before there's a shift in the culture.

"Things are still the same. Relationships between the Raleigh Police Department and marginalized communities that I'm in contact with, are still at an all-time low," Pittman said. "What I would love to see take place is acknowledgment of past mistakes that the Raleigh Police Department has done to the citizens. That is the first step and being honest and coming to the table and addressing the elephant in the room."

Pittman also suggested more resources to help residents thrive.

"Until she starts partnering with the community to try to bring about how we can bring resources to this community, how we can educate this community, and how we can bring economics to these community members, then it's going to be the same," He added.