Local News

Raleigh police department undergoing restructuring

Posted January 4, 2010 12:59 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2010 6:55 p.m. EST

— Raleigh's police chief says the city's police department is refocusing its efforts on gangs, youth crimes and drug offenses as part of a major restructuring effort over the next several years.

"In the next five to seven years, what you'll recognize about the Raleigh Police Department are your patrol cars and your uniforms," Chief Harry Dolan said Monday. "Just about everything else is going to change."

Based on a year of meetings with community leaders, the police department is adding a Youth and Family Services Unit, with juvenile officers who will work with families on everything from gang issues to dropout prevention.

The goal, Dolan said, is to help young people avoid crime and graduate. It's an issue leaders identified as one of the biggest they face.

"We can only put so many people in jail," Dolan said, emphasizing the need to concentrate on youth-crime prevention with after-school programs and job-training.

Among other changes, the department is adding a third drugs-and-vice unit and a third Special Enforcement Unit, which is similar to a S.W.A.T.

The department has also increased the number of police beats by 25 percent – from 49 to 62 – over the past two years and has put more resources into its community-policing program. It has also redrawn police districts to reflect crime trends and needs.

Dolan says all of these changes are being made within the current budget and with existing personnel, which includes more than 750 officers.

Police headquarters will also temporarily relocate from the corner of Hargett and McDowell streets in downtown to 6719 Six Forks Road while a new public safety center is built in the location. That move is expected to be complete in March.

There's no timetable on when the Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center will be complete. Construction on the 17-story, $226 million facility is expected to take more than two years.

When finished, it will also house the headquarters of the Raleigh Fire Department, the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center, a traffic control center and a data center