Raleigh’s Response to Police Accountability Community Task Force Recommendations

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Police salute for the National Anthem.

Karen Tam

Police salute for the National Anthem.

Editor’s note: in our most recent Agenda Preview, we included a portion of the City Manager’s response to concerns raised over the past months by the Police Accountability Community Task Force. Several readers have reached out asking if we had a fuller copy of the response. We do, and we’re presenting it below without comment. 

TO: Mayor & Council

FROM: Ruffin Hall, City Manager

DATE: May 25, 2016

SUBJ: Staff Response to Police Accountability Community Task Force (PACT) Policy Recommendations


Please find attached the response to PACT’s policy recommendations from City staff. The attached memo was compiled by the Raleigh Police Department (RP) in conjunction with the City Attorney’s Office. It responds to the following four broad areas of concern raised by the group:

Accountability:

  1. 1) Community Oversight Board
  2. Anti-Bias Policing Policy Equity:
  3. Officer Training/Crisis Intervention Training
  4. Written Consent to Search Forms
  5. Deprioritization of Marijuana Enforcement Transparency:
  6. Body Worn Camera Program Community Policing:
  7. Internship Program
  8. Relationship Building/Community Relations

The report indicates that we are currently addressing most, if not all, of the four broad areas through existing protocols and standard operating procedures within RPD. However, best practices in law enforcement suggest that traditional policing, while often effective in practice, yields greater positive results when it is transparent and community oriented. In an attempt to build trust, enhance transparency, promote a high quality of life and create safer neighborhoods, staff remains committed to working with the community on the proposed policy recommendations.

To that end, we propose two approaches in response to the group’s recommendations. First, staff is continuing to review several concepts listed in the PACT memorandum for additional consideration:

  • Police Oversight Board and approval requirements from the NC General Assembly;
  • Training related to non-bias policing and crisis intervention;
  • Utilizing written consent forms when conducting searches;
  • Communicating to citizens the right to refuse a search;
  • Evaluating other law enforcement agencies’ procedures for filing complaints;
  • Continuing the City’s efforts to implement body worn cameras;
  • Conducting annual reviews of bias data on all officers to ensure equity;
  • Elevating the current RPD Internship Program to recruit and retain officers of color
  • Continuing to foster community relations through enhanced community policing practices.

Second, staff plans to reach out to members of PACT to review our response through a face to face discussion. A meeting to go over these concepts and the City’s response will give both parties an opportunity to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the issues we all face.

As you know, growing population pressures, such as urbanization and increased density, amplify the demand for establishing safe neighborhoods in the City of Raleigh. This is a task and charge that we take very seriously. We are interested in having a collaborative conversation on how we might move forward together.

Staff will provide additional updates to the Mayor and Council as needed. Please let us know if you have any questions.

 

TO: Ruffin Hall, City Manager

FROM: Cassandra Deck-Brown, Chief of Police Raleigh Police Dept.

DATE: June 29, 2016

SUBJECT: Police Accountability Community Task Force (PACT) Meetings


MESSAGE:

As you know, Deputy Chief Perry and I, along with you and ACM Adams-David, have met with several representatives from PACT on three separate occasions (May 25, June 8 & June 22). The meetings have included our responses to their recommendations as well as straightforward communication designed to improve community relationships and foster sustainable positive engagement going forward. It is my belief that the meetings have been generally constructive; however, certain issues will require much broader discussion and, in some cases, legislative action. A summary review of the issues is as follows:

Accountability:

PACT has recommended the creation of a Community Oversight Board. Thus far, we have benchmarked Durham; however, it appears that the creation of such a body would require legislative action. Our meetings with PACT did prompt us to systematically review the RPD protocol for accepting and tracking citizen complaints. As a result, our Internal Affairs Unit is has already begun to enhance that process. Providing more timely status updates to complainants is one improvement that has already been implemented. By doing so, we can ensure that the citizen complainant is kept abreast on the status of the investigation.

There was considerable discussion regarding the department’s Anti-Bias Policing Policy. While RPD has a specific directive that addresses this issue, we recognize the potential benefit for additional training. As such, RPD personnel will soon be receiving implicit bias training designed to enrich and improve our relationship with the greater community. The long-term benefits of such training will both promote and facilitate increased positive interactions between police and community members. Our greater goal is that community members develop a stronger sense of trust in the officers; thus reducing the biases that citizens may also hold against the police.

In addition, the department is evaluating additional uses and methods of review for stop-and-search data. Internally, the objective is for officers’ stop-and-search data to be regularly audited in order to further ensure acceptable behavior (fairness and equity). However, it is important to fully evaluate our current stop data to identify where both our strengths and weaknesses exist to ensure that we are taking appropriate actions if/when necessary. Our greater goal is to ensure fairness and equity during both stops and searches.

Equity:

PACT recommended increasing the number of RPD officers who have received Crisis Intervention Training. While we currently have 257 CIT trained officers, efforts will be made to increase the overall total. This step will take some time, as this training is scheduled on a quarterly basis throughout the County, and allocated slots must also be afforded to other area law enforcement agencies as well. It is important to note that the RPD is partnered with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) of Wake County, Alliance Behavioral Health (ABH) and Wake Technical Community College to provide the CIT training to our officers and other law enforcement throughout Wake County. The curriculum includes but is not limited to topics such as:

  • Mental health disorders
  • Shadowing mental health professionals
  • Substance use disorders
  • Trauma
  • Suicide Assessment
  • De-escalation

PACT has called for written consent search forms as a way to prevent bias in stops and searches. It should be noted that RPD just recently revised its consent search forms, which now explain that citizens have the right to refuse to give consent to search. We will also make the form available in Spanish. During the meetings, PACT representatives expressed their opinion that the revisions were not sufficiently clear. For reference, the language included on the revised forms is below:

I [Name] , do knowingly and voluntarily consent to the search of Person or Property to be Searched by a law enforcement officer. By signing below, I acknowledge the following:

  • That I am giving my consent to search knowingly and voluntarily. No threats or promises have been made to me.
  • That I have been advised and understand I have the right to refuse to give consent to search the above described location.
  • That I have been advised and understand I have the right to limit the scope of the search. I can determine what specific areas of the above described location can and cannot be searched by law enforcement at this time.
  • That I have been advised and understand I can change my mind, and revoke my consent to search at any time, even after the search has begun.

PACT has requested that RPD deprioritize marijuana enforcement. As noted previously, marijuana is currently a controlled substance in North Carolina. Any decision to alter enforcement practices would require thoughtful conversation with the Council, Legislature, and Wake County District Attorney

Transparency:

We discussed the implementation of a body-worn camera program that protects the rights and privacy of citizens and provides access to the video footage. We are currently reviewing several camera proposals that were submitted as part of the RFP process. Additionally, we have begun crafting the requisite policies that will govern the usage of the cameras during the pilot phase and beyond. The policies will be presented to you and Council well in advance of the “go-live” date to ensure all stakeholders have sufficient time to offer input and weigh in accordingly. The public will also have an opportunity to comment.

Community Policing:

We discussed the RPD philosophy of Community Policing and its organizational structure. As noted in the previous memorandum, the Raleigh Police Department continues to build on its foundation of community policing. Officers are assigned to geographical areas commonly referred to as beats. Community policing begins with beat officers, who are expected to engage residents and business owners alike in an effort to solve problems, effectively communicate about matters of concern, and collaborate on a variety of contemporary issues that affect them. The RPD has six dedicated community-policing teams that are assigned to each of the patrol districts. The officers assigned to community policing work collaboratively with stakeholders throughout the community to improve the quality of life for our citizens. PACT posed questions about the foot patrols in the South Park community. We explained that this initiative was in large part due to requests from the residents in the area. While available resources will dictate that the additional use of foot patrols is temporary in nature, the goal is to achieve increased understanding between the community and the officers who serve it.

PACT representatives recommended that we implement an internship program designed to recruit and retain officers of color. We explained that RPD has had such a program for many years with students representing many academic institutions.

During this current academic year (August 2015 — June 2016), the RPD partnered with 8 academic institutions to afford an opportunity to allow students to participate in our internship program. Those colleges and universities included:

  • Appalachian State University — 3 Interns
  • East Carolina University — 1 Intern
  • Meredith College — 7 Interns
  • Methodist University — 1 Intern
  • NC Central University — 14 Interns
  • NC State University — 7 Interns
  • Saint Augustine’s University — 1 Intern
  • William Peace University — 1 Intern

Though an internship is often an academic requirement, not every student desires to be a law enforcement officer. The criminal justice field does afford the student a variety of opportunities and the internship experience exposes the student to the broad topical areas that make up the criminal justice arena. Of those interns, we have hired 4.

Next Steps:

It should be noted that the meetings afforded everyone in attendance the opportunity to listen, exchange ideas and share perspectives. Now, perhaps more than ever, positive citizen engagement and collaboration is needed for communities to thrive. We recognize that the RPD has taken positive steps in the right direction, and we must continually strive to further enhance the relationship with the community and the service we provide. To that end, we are reviewing and revising policies, coordinating additional training for RPD personnel, and evaluating methods to ensure that officers are serving their areas of assigned responsibility in a fair and equitable manner.

One of the running themes throughout our meetings was the issue of trust and transparency. At the beginning of our last meeting, we requested that it not be recorded so that everyone would feel comfortable with freely discussing the issues at hand. PACT agreed to our request but secretly recorded the meeting nonetheless. A portion of the meeting was uploaded to social media without our knowledge or consent. We will still continue to address the eight areas of concern raised by PACT. However, we do not believe additional meetings are warranted at this time. While the small group dialogue was quite beneficial, there is a need for broader community engagement and conversation in order to strengthen our bond with the citizens we serve.

One thought on “Raleigh’s Response to Police Accountability Community Task Force Recommendations

  1. My husband Tom and I think the Raleigh Police department is the best a city can expect. They work hard for very little pay.
    They work hard even though they know there should be more money to hire more officers to help them cover their territory.
    I have not witnessed not heard of anyone who has witnessed any profiling , with the number of arrests they make in a year.

    I think there is a lot of transparancy in things they do. Sometimes it is not waste to be transparent.

    I do not understand even why we are discussing them as if there would be a reason for them to improve. I have seen no reason.
    The only thing that bothers me is the very young police officers drive too fast on city streets and do not look for pedistraians as well as they should.
    Other than that,we are grateful they are there doing such a great job.
    My husband is a criminal defense attorney, 48 years and I have never heard him complain about RAleigh Police.
    June McNamara.
    919-971-6001