Raleigh police chief announces ban on chokeholds, updates other policies; advocates push for more action

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown spoke to city councilmembers on Tuesday about policy changes to be made in connection to the recent protests in Raleigh.

Raleigh City Manager Ruffin Hall said there will be a full review of the last 10 days of protests. It’ll include a summary of incidents, use of force and rationale, coordination with other public safety agencies, resources used at events, and will highlight areas the city can improve on in the future.

Per the chief’s request, Raleigh is also bringing in an outside panel of experts to conduct an independent and objective review of the city’s response to the protests.

“I clearly don’t want to see anything like what we just saw occur within our department or what we’ve seen across the United States,” Deck-Brown said.

The chief said the Raleigh Police Department is updating policies to meet the “Eight Can’t Wait” list, which is practices by Campaign Zero to curb police violence.

RPD currently meets five of the eight policy topics. Deck-Brown said policies and training speak to the other three topics, but there’s room for improvement.

The chief said current policy says to avoid chokeholds or strangleholds. The department will now move to ban them. It is also going to incorporate a three-strikes rule for officers and re-evaluate several policies, like de-escalation tactics.

“Reform starts with us. Reform starts with the chief of police in the organization, as well as the individuals who make up that organization,” said the chief.

Advocate Surena Johnson said these changes only scratch the surface and don’t do enough for the community.

“It’s really important, right now, for them to make really drastic changes because it’s needed because it’s systemic,” said Johnson, who is with the Raleigh Police Accountability Community Task Force (RPACT) and executive director of Orchid Bloom Nonprofit.

When a councilmember asked the chief about the consequences when officers violate policy, the chief said they’re disciplined but didn’t elaborate on types of reprimand. She added they can’t talk about specific cases due to personnel reasons.

“Everything they’re giving us now is very surface, very general, no specifics, and it does not violate state law for you to say what disciplinary actions are,” Johnson said. “I’m really hoping that everything that’s taking place right now across the world will allow the city council to see how all of this is attached to our daily lives as African Americans, as black people, and people of color.”

The city doesn’t have specifics yet for when the panel of experts will be brought on to conduct an independent review of the protests. It plans to have updates at the next council meeting.

Multiple councilors said this is the first of many steps.

The city is also forming a police advisory board. It will be made up of seven members with different backgrounds and expertise. Once appointed, the group will review policies and give feedback to the city.

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