Local News

Raleigh police chief wants more cops, cameras in crime-prone areas

Posted October 13, 2021 6:40 p.m. EDT
Updated October 13, 2021 7:52 p.m. EDT

— Two months after taking office, Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson on Thursday started laying out her plans to combat crime in the city.

"One of the things I have repeatedly expressed is my desire to make Raleigh the safest city in America," Patterson said during a news conference in which she detailed crime statistics for the July-to-September quarter.

A dozen homicides occurred in Raleigh during the three-month period, up 33 percent from the same time last year and triple the number from 2019.

"I believe what we are experiencing with homicides, unfortunately, is part of a disturbing national trend, based on increases in gun violence that is leading to lives being lost," Patterson said.

Four of the 12 homicides occurred at bars, nightclubs or sweepstakes locations, she said, so her officers will look more closely at those businesses "and the kind of people that are attending them."

Raleigh police will use a targeted approach to attack crime, the chief said, using a combination of more frequent patrols, surveillance cameras and community tips in high-crime areas.

"We are intent on coming after you if you commit violent crime in our city," she said. "We are not tolerant of it, and we are not accepting of it."

One obstacle to the strategy, Patterson noted, is that the Raleigh Police Department has 100 vacant positions right now.

City Councilman Corey Branch said boosting the effectiveness of police is "all about relationships."

"[They should be] finding ways where they may not have to be in their full uniform and finding a way for them to go out into the community so people can see that they’re human and not just a person with a badge and a gun," Branch said.

Also last quarter, aggravated assaults were up 10 percent, but assaults involving guns jumped 26 percent.

Although robberies were down 8 percent during the quarter, vehicle thefts were up 12 percent. Patterson added that there were nearly 700 thefts from vehicles across Raleigh in the last three months, including 79 incidents in which guns were taken.

The chief urged people to lock their vehicles, not to leave them running unattended on cold mornings and to stash any valuables inside.

"If we are going to keep Raleigh safe, we must take a unified approach where we stand and agree together that violence is unacceptable," she said.