RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Estella Patterson may have been sworn in as Raleigh’s 30th chief of police on Thursday but she has been busy on the job – tackling what she says are her biggest challenges.
On Friday, she sat down with CBS 17’s Rod Carter to talk about her goals for the Department and those challenges.
Patterson said her first 10 days as chief has been busy. On her second day on the job, she attended National Night out events that placed her in the community, meeting people.
Carter asked why it is important to her to be a part of events such as National Night Out:
“It’s hugely important for me. We have to rebuild the trust with the community and I think the best way and the most appropriate way to do that is to be out and about.
“Getting to learn the community, learning Raleigh. I don’t know Raleigh so I have to learn the area, learn my way around and also I don’t know the people of Raleigh yet, so it’s important to me that I can make those connections – that I can get out and I can talk with them.”
Carter asked about the bigger challenges she expects to face in Raleigh where she again spoke of building trust with the community.
“Building that trust, reconnecting with the community and the officers where they are really in sync. And they’re really working together very closely. Also looking internally,” Patterson said.
Trust she said eroded a great deal in 2020 in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. That lead to something else she has to deal with: hiring and keeping officers.
“Why do you think people are leaving the department?” Carter asked the chief.
“I think last year, last year was very tough with the many protests, the defund police movement, that type of thing. If we think our police officers and our staff don’t hear that and are not in tune with what’s going on in the community, I think they’re mistaken,” she said.
City Manager Marchell Adams-David announced Patterson as Raleigh’s next chief in mid-June following a months-long search.
Patterson was selected over two other finalists.
“What do you think made you rise above the other candidates?” Carter asked.
“There were some strong candidates that I was going up against. And I was unsure going up against them. I think my genuineness. I think the city manager, the citizens of Raleigh see that even though they don’t know me. That’s what I’m saying is my passion and that I’m true to that. Also to my experience, being a police officer for 25 years in North Carolina,” she said.
She hopes to build relationships from the ground up, internally and externally.
She said it all plays a part in the ultimate goal of bringing down crime.
Carter asked Patterson how big of a challenge reducing crime will be:
“Yes, we have a crime meeting or I meet with the command staff two days a week to talk about crime and have follow-ups on that. That is huge for me.
“It’s very important that we look at that. The increases we are seeing are not specific to RPD. They are across the nation. I dealt with the exact same thing when I was in Charlotte. We’re seeing the aggravated assaults, shooting incidents, we’re seeing rises there. It’s a challenge.”
Off the job, Patterson said she leads a relatively quiet life.
“I don’t cook that well, can’t sing so you can check those off. Really I think some people would say my life is just kind of ordinary. I watch Family Feud in the evenings. I like spending time with my family, with my husband. When I take the uniform off, I am an everyday person,” she said.
But there is one thing she wants people to know for sure.
“I am a huge San Francisco 49ers fan. Go 49ers!”