Raleigh police chief pledges more patrols, cameras to tackle rise in violent crime

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In response to an uptick in violent crime, Raleigh police will conduct more patrols and install more cameras in parts of the city seeing “repeat calls of violence,” Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said Wednesday.

Patterson spoke about her strategy for tackling violent crimes like homicides and aggravated assaults during a news conference outside the Raleigh Police Department’s Northwest District.

She also discussed the number of crimes that occurred between July 1 and Sept. 30, as part of a new initiative to share and analyze crime statistics every quarter. Patterson was named the new police chief this summer and was sworn in Aug. 12. Wednesday was her first quarterly crime briefing.

Raleigh saw 12 homicides during the third quarter of 2021, up from the nine homicides recorded in the third quarter of 2020, and four during the same period in 2019.

“I believe what we are experiencing with homicides, unfortunately, is part of a disturbing national trend based on increases in gun violence that is leading to lives being lost,” Patterson said.

Four of the 12 homicides occurred at bars, nightclubs or sweepstakes locations, Patterson said, and that has prompted police to “look more closely at the activity at these locations and the kind of people that are attending them.”

Patterson said police have arrested suspects in 11 of the 12 murder investigations.

“We are intent on coming after you if you commit violent crime in our city,” Patterson said. “We’re not tolerant of it, we’re not accepting of it.”

Increase in aggravated assaults

The number of aggravated assaults also increased in the third quarter, compared to the same periods in 2020 and 2019. That’s a more severe assault charge under North Carolina law that often involves serious injuries or the use of a deadly weapon.

There were 284 aggravated assaults between July and the end of September. By contrast, there were 257 aggravated assaults in the third quarter of 2020, and 239 in the third quarter of 2019.

Of the aggravated assaults that occurred in the third quarter of this year, 134 involved firearms, 68 were related to calls of domestic violence, and 19 involved juveniles with access to firearms.

To address the “growing problem” of guns used by children, Raleigh police are working with the Wake County Public School System to raise awareness and discourage young people from engaging in violence, Patterson said.

Raleigh police officers have also visited 46 elementary schools, speaking to fifth-graders about “making good life choices and being positive citizens,” she said.

Patterson said police need help reaching more young people, and asked community groups to partner with the department and provide gun awareness and anger management training.

More patrols, cameras

To address the rise in violent crime, Patterson said the department will conduct more high visibility patrols and seek to install more cameras in areas experiencing higher rates of violence.

The department will also continue working with community leaders, which Patterson said is “an important aspect of reducing crime.”

One of the areas where police are reallocating resources, including an increase in patrols, are bars, nightclubs and other late night establishments, said Maj. Rico Boyce, who oversees patrol services.

The goal is to “be proactive in stopping individuals that may be in possession of an illegal firearm, before we even get to that location,” Boyce said.

Boyce did not provide specific locations for the increased patrols, noting that the uptick in violent crime is occurring citywide. He said the areas with bars and nightclubs, where police are focusing their patrol efforts, are along the city’s “major corridors.”

Increase in vehicle thefts

In addition to violent crime, Raleigh also saw an increase in property crimes this quarter, particularly vehicle thefts and items stolen from vehicles, Patterson said.

During the third quarter of 2021, there were 307 vehicle thefts, up from 273 during the same period in 2020 and 215 during the same period in 2019.

The third quarter of 2021 also saw 661 thefts from vehicles, which Patterson said was a continuation of a “consistent trend” over the last few years. In 79 of those incidents, guns were stolen.

Patterson reminded car owners not to leave their vehicles unattended or running, or with spare keys or fobs inside. She also said people should avoid leaving items in their cars that can be easily seen.

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