Image of Kerwin Pittman being interviewed by ABC11 News

For over four years, Emancipate NC has been demanding accountability for misconduct by the Raleigh Police Department. The tragic and all-too-familiar cases ranging from Kyron Hinton in 2018 to Daniel Turcios earlier this year paint a clear picture of an agency that has persistently abused the use of force in the community it is meant to serve. 

In response to Team Emancipate and others’ constant pressure, RPD announced this past summer that it would be adopting its first-ever de-escalation policy, theoretically to reduce incidents of excessive force. As a direct nod to advocacy by Emancipate’s Kerwin Pittman over the Summer and Fall, Raleigh’s draft claimed it would honor the sanctity of life. 

However, this draft policy fell short of model policies best-designed to achieve this goal. Worse, the department has now officially adopted what was the draft policy with only minor revisions.

Lip service to the sanctity of life means nothing if the policy directives don’t back it up. The de-escalation measures articulated by RPD are vague, lending themselves to interpretation by officers. This undermines accountability because, without step-by-step instructions like those found in other police departments’ policies, we can’t say whether de-escalation actually happened or not.

This new policy is a missed opportunity. It enables more of the warrior mentality of policing than the guardian mentality for which we have advocated. 

While RPD’s policy is now active, they have stated they will continue to revise it. We will not be satisfied by Raleigh’s latest effort to mitigate public rebuke when people’s lives may be decided by these words. We will continue to fight for the safety our people need and deserve.