Members, activists call for Raleigh’s police activity board to be given more power

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For six years, community activists pushed for a police advisory board in Raleigh. After hundreds marched downtown during racial justice protests this summer, the city and police department agreed to form one with the purpose of reviewing department policy.

Now activists and some board members say they aren’t getting to do that and are calling for more power to be given to the PAB.

“The board that we asked for is not the board that the city gave us,” said Surena Johnson.

Johnson spoke during a press conference Thursday held by activism group Raleigh Demands Justice. Activists, including PAB member Greear Webb, presented a list of demands they would like to see implemented.

“The city likes to say the board, of which I am a part, is one that is for transparency and to build trust in the community between law enforcement and Raleigh citizens. We know that that trust cannot be built when the board has limited power,” Webb said.

Activists want the city to hire a lobbyist to push the General Assembly for investigative and subpoena power, as well as to repeal laws that limit oversight committees from holding law enforcement agencies accountable.

Raleigh Demands Justice also claimed RPD is withholding certain policies from the advisory board and wants an explanation from the city attorney as to why.

“The police department has refused to make public certain policies that are the policies the board needs which is how they use tear gas, how they police protestors, how they discipline officers,” said Zainab Baloch during Thursday’s press conference.

Activists also claim there is a conflict of interest as the director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the Police Chief both report to the City Manager. Activists want the city manager to end involvement in the advisory board’s agenda.

“We, as well as boards and commissions that support City Council, work within the structure of the organization and don’t believe there is a conflict of interest,” City Manager Marchell Adams-David in a statement.

Raleigh Demands Justice is also asking that in upcoming budget work sessions, city leaders not increase police department funding. Instead, they want funds to be put toward mental health support programs, and homelessness reduction initiatives.

The demands come after two board members resigned Wednesday, less than a year after the PAB’s creation, claiming “guarded and defensive attitudes,” and “disrespect from leadership.”

In a statement to CBS 17, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said:

“It is unfortunate that two members resigned from the board. I wish they had stayed and been part of the solution. Our goal with the board is to provide guidance on policy and help build trust in the community. The City is committed to this work.”

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