RALEIGH, N.C. — Estella Patterson was sworn-in on Thursday morning as Raleigh’s police chief. She replaces Cassandra Deck-Brown who retired earlier this summer.
What You Need To Know
Estella Patterson was sworn in as Raleigh’s police chief on Thursday
Diana Powell is the executive director of the nonprofit Justice Served
Powell hopes Patterson builds close relationships with community leaders, works to add youth programs and reduce gangs
Patterson’s hire comes after a nationwide search, but she didn’t have to travel far. She spent the last 25 years with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Patterson says her three main priorities in this new role will be strengthening police and community trust, reducing violent crime and assessing internal structures and morale.
“I stand proud, poised, resolute and ready to lead RPD into its next best years as a forward thinking, progressive, community-centered organization. My energy is high and my commitment unwavering. I am ready to be about the people’s business,” Patterson said. “I believe now is an excellent time to stand together to make Raleigh the national example in bridging the trust gap between police and community.”
Before Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony, Diana Powell shared her thoughts on the new police chief. Powell is a Raleigh native and the executive director of the nonprofit Justice Served NC.
Powell is focused on reducing recidivism and changing the criminal justice system.
“We deal with and we see a lot of drug activity and prostitution,” Powell said.
A few days ago a man was fatally shot on Boyer Street, around the block from her nonprofit.
“Some of them are so desensitized that they feel this is all I have,” Powell said. “They don’t want to have anything to do with law enforcement and that’s the kind of thing that I want to advocate that we can change.”
Powell believes her organization, and others like it, may be the chief’s greatest asset moving forward. She knows this because she’s the boots, or rather the heels, on the ground.
“We don’t want it to be a thing where officers have to come in and arrest. We have to get to the root of why our people are in these positions and in this predicament,” Powell said.
Community organizations like Powell’s are already connected with struggling neighborhoods, something she believes can serve as a major asset to Raleigh’s new police chief.
“My hope is she will connect with us to be able to connect with them. That we can build that relationship that our people won’t always have to be afraid of law enforcement,” Powell said.
It’s not going to be an easy situation to change, but Powell says there’s no better time or place than now.
“We have to do things a little bit different, and it can start right here in Raleigh,” Powell said.
Powell says there was a time when she had a strong relationship with Raleigh Police.
“I had officers that would call me and say ‘Ms. Powell, I have this youth. He was trespassing or he was in this abandoned house or he was somewhere he should not have been. I don’t want to take him to jail. Will you come and talk to him?’ Or they have actually brought them to my house,” Powell said.
In addition to relying on community organizations, Powell says she also wants Patterson to prioritize ways to reduce gangs and boost youth programs.