Triangle non-profit, RTI International, hosts community safety event

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Thursday, April 18, 2024
Triangle non-profit hosting community safety event
RTI International is hosting its annual symposium on community safety and policing research.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Triangle nonprofit hosted an event aimed at enhancing community safety in the area.

It was RTI International's annual symposium on community safety and policing research.

They are analyzing data and trying to share best practices plaguing communities here and in the Triangle and beyond.

About 300 people from North Carolina and across the country shared best practices to try and solve the ongoing issues.

"There is attendees here from Richmond, Virginia. And just saying here in the last week or so, they've had multiple individuals, 15, 16 years old, shot and killed there. And that's out of out of character for them. They haven't seen that a lot. So I think there's a lot of places in North Carolina and outside struggling with this," said Kevin Strom, Director of Center for Policing Research and Investigation Science.

With 40 years of law enforcement experience Bill Hollingshead told ABC11 those involved in violent crimes are getting younger and younger, which is another reason why law enforcement agencies are at RTI.

"So we are again looking at solutions and again looking at research to help us respond to those incidents and then help hopefully prevent those crimes in the future, whether it's by juvenile offenders or adult offenders," said Bill Hollingsed, Executive Director for the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police.

At the 9th Annual Symposium on Community Safety and Policing Research leaders are sharing data and evidence based strategies in order to create solutions that work in an ever changing society.

The nonprofit said attendees will hear from experts in law enforcement, Homeland Security, public health, and public policy.

They are also tackling big issues like officer recruitment and retention.

"We surveyed agencies in our state and found that 25% of the agencies in North Carolina have a vacancy rate of 20% or more. So again, that's affecting the service level that we're able to provide our communities and our residents that's also affecting our cops," said Hollingsed.

Sharing what is working and not working in police departments has proven to be valuable.

"We have a project here focusing on investigations of gun violence, how to increase clearance rates for fatal and non-fatal gun violence. And Austin is one of those cities that we've really learned from. They maintain a very high clearance rate there for homicides and non-fatal shootings," said Strom.

Officers realize while most of their work is reactionary; partnerships with hospitals, schools, faith leaders, and those alike, are critical to creating and maintaining safe neighborhoods and cities.

"Whether it is the increase in violence, whether it's the increasing fentanyl deaths that are occurring throughout every one of our communities, it's important that we all get together and work as a team and collaborate to find answers together," said Hollingsed.

The event takes place Wednesday and Thursday at the RTI Campus in Research Triangle Park.

ABC11 Neighborhood Safety Tracker