Local News

Data: Raleigh police rarely fire on suspects

Posted March 4, 2016 5:16 p.m. EST
Updated June 12, 2017 3:08 p.m. EDT

— It has been six years since an officer of the Raleigh Police Department shot and killed someone.

In 2008, Renford Butler robbed and carjacked a cab driver and led police on a chase before confronting officers with a straight razor. He was shot and later died.

Since then, Raleigh police have made approximately a million arrests. While not all of those arrests went smoothly, statistics appear to show that firing a weapon to subdue a suspect is often the last resort.

Dennis Lane, a retired Raleigh police major, said officers resort to deadly force only as a means of self-defense.

"Raleigh officers come to work each day with three goals: provide the best service that they can, not have to use deadly force, but to be able to go home at the end of the day," Lane said.

Harry Dolan, former Raleigh chief of police and now a consultant to law enforcement agencies, praised the actions of Officer D.C. Twiddy, who shot and killed a known drug dealer after a chase on Monday.

"The actions of Senior Officer Twiddy on Feb. 29 appear to be yet another example of the heroism that the men and women of the RPD display in the line of duty,” Dolan said.

"As a resident of Raleigh and as a retired police officer, I am extremely grateful to know that members of the RPD regularly engage in unsung acts of selfless heroism on behalf of the citizens they serve."

Over the past 10 years, Raleigh police have averaged about one officer-involved shooting per year. Officers answer about 1,000 calls per day and suffer hundreds of physical assaults each year.

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Community leaders say that police have built trust by through communication, but that there is still more to be done.

"When people found out that police were in their neighborhood not to arrest them but to talk to them, and communication played a big part, I've seen good results from that," said Eugene Weeks, a former Raleigh city councilman.

"It's that communication between the police and the community that will be very effective in driving toward us having a better city, having a better trust in the police, and the police having a better trust in the community they are serving."

Since Butler's shooting death, RPD officers have been assaulted nearly 1,200 times. The most dangerous year was 2011, when there were 192 recorded assaults on officers.

The most recent data available, from 2014, shows that suspects showed a gun in just two assaults on police. Four times, they showed a knife or other cutting instrument; seven had another type of weapon; and 125 assaults came from flying fists or feet.

In two incidents in 2014, officers responded with gunshots. At an apartment complex, police returned fire after a suspect fired on them first. Seven months later, a Raleigh officer shot and injured a man at a mental health facility when the man charged him with a pair of scissors. An investigation found that officer used his gun after his stun gun failed to stop the man.