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New Raleigh Police Unit Will Send Social Workers To Certain Calls

Raleigh Police Cruiser
PDpolicecars, via Flickr

Raleigh Police are creating a new unit that would send both officers and social workers to certain calls.

The unit includes a detective, three officers and three social workers who could field requests for assistance in mental health crises or issues involving homelessness.

It is, in part, a response to cries from the community to find ways to avoid confrontations with police.

But, during this week's city council meeting, some Raleigh residents criticized the structure of the program, saying it should operate independent of the police department rather than being overseen by a police sergeant.

Resident Stephanie Lormand was among those who spoke up.

“Your community has shown up for public comments in the hundreds to tell you how we want our money spent in community services to our neighbors,” she said. “No one mentioned cops. In fact, we explicitly said 'no more cops.' You heard all of that and came back with the solution of more cops.”

Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown told members of the city council this week that the unit would include field services and follow-up case management.

“There will be calls for service, but it will involve utilizing a care and safety first, enforcement last approach,” Deck-Brown said. “And it must model and reflect kindness, compassion, equity and cultural competence.”

Deck-Brown said the department plans to finish hiring by the end of the year.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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