Months after Raleigh police receives review on handling of protests – was it worth the cost?

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – From the end of May through early June, protests ensued across the country after the death of George Floyd.

Those protests occurred in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Durham, too.

In late October, the Raleigh Police Department released hundreds of body and dash camera videos from the protests. 

“They [law enforcement] were armed and ready and deployed. They were in defensive mode,” said Kerwin Pittman. 

Pittman is an activist in the Raleigh area. He was an organizer of rallies and marches since the deaths of Floyd and Breonna Taylor. 

Law enforcement used tear gas during the Raleigh protests.

Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said she stands by deploying it for some moments during the protests.  

In September, she admitted officers shouldn’t have deployed it every time they did.  

She also presented a review of the Department’s response to the events from May 30 to June 7 to the City Council, labeled the After-Action Report.  

It is a 47-page report detailing chronology what happened each day of the protests.  

It then prompted then-City Manager Ruffin Hall to authorize an outside firm to conduct a review of policies and procedures during protests.  

“This is something that is much bigger than the City of Raleigh,” Deck- Brown said.

“The suggestion was, why not have an opportunity to explore how we not much compare to other jurisdictions and other cities but recognizing that this is something that is much bigger than the City of Raleigh,” Deck- Brown stated. 

The company that was chosen was Chicago-based 21CP Solutions.

According to its website, the company’s partners and associates are made up of former police chiefs, policing experts, professors and those with mostly law enforcement backgrounds.  

On its website, its work includes consulting Baltimore police.  

Even last February, 21CP was working with the State of Minnesota to reduce deadly force encounters with law enforcement.  

This happened roughly three months before George Floyd was murdered.  

CBS 17’s Nick Sturdivant asked Deck-Brown if the recommendations from 21CP Solutions were fair since it does have strong law enforcement ties? 

“I believe so. I’ve been asked that question before. You wouldn’t put an umpire in a baseball game who has no knowledge of the rules of the game. You don’t do that,” Deck-Brown explained. 

However, Pittman and others have expressed their concerns over the choice. 

“How can we expect the police to police the police,” Pittman asked. 

The 21CP Solutions report includes dozens of recommendations. 

For instance, “RPD should develop clear policy guidance as to when officers managing crowd and protest situations, can make mass arrests.” 

Also, it states, “RPD should develop more specific policy guidance on the use of force in crowd contexts.” 

“I do believe that they did that,” Deck-Brown said.

The company writes that pepper spray appeared to be “applied more indiscriminately to crowds of people.”  

“They (21CP Solutions) were also tasked with talking with members of the community and I do believe that they did that. They reached out to members of the community that were not necessarily supportive of the work that we had done,” mentioned Deck-Brown. 

The City spent $87,500 from its general fund to pay for 21CP Solutions report.  

Dawn Blagrove, an attorney and executive director for Emancipate NC, has been critical funds spent by the City and the private firm hired. 

“Instead of spending more money on consultants. What we need to do is send everybody tapes of what we saw in D.C. and see if all protesters can be responded to like those protesters by law enforcement,” she said. 

She told CBS 17 in November that 21CP reached out to her to participate but she declined. 

In December, Deck-Brown released her response to the recommendations.  

It listed projected completion dates next to each recommendation.   

According to the timeline, more than a dozen of those recommendations have been completed. 

Read the full report and RPD’s response

The timeline lists some being completed as early as December 2020 and some projected to be completed as late as April 2021. 

“That combination of next steps has already been started,” Deck-Brown said.

“So, I just wanted us to be very intentional about setting dates and timelines and making sure that they were tangible as this organization moves through the rest of the year with everything else, we have on the table,” Deck-Brown explained. 

As for what’s next?  

For Deck-Brown it’s retirement.  

She announced in December that she will retire in April.  

“Whether I’m here or not – this ship has already sailed.  21CP Solutions recommendations, the After-Action Report, that combination of next steps has already been started,” she stated. 

CBS 17 has reached out to 21CP Solutions multiple times and not heard back. 

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