About 20 people, most of them officers with the Cary Police Department, filled into seats Tuesday night in the Cary Town Hall Council Chambers to hear feedback from residents about their department.
Only one spoke up, and most others in attendance had praise for the department.
The Cary Police Department is up for voluntary re-accreditation every three years. The department has a 20-year streak of complying with accreditation standards.
Stephen Walker and Joe Spera, assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), led the public hearing, which was intended to collect residents’ comments to be considered during the re-accreditation process. The team arrived July 26 and began determining whether the department still complies with CALEA’s 484 standards.
Kathleen Sanfratello, who managed the accreditation for the police department, said the process is important for the department’s accountability.
“If you’re an accredited agency, it really increases the community’s confidence,” Sanfratello said.
On Tuesday, public comments were limited to 10 minutes and had to be related to the accreditation procedure. There was also a two-hour period Tuesday afternoon where Cary residents could call accreditors with their comments.
Only one Cary resident spoke at the public hearing. Marshall Bryant, who has lived in Cary for three years, asked about what tactics the department would use to defuse a tense situation.
“In light of recent national events,” Bryant said, referring to racial unrest throughout the country, ranging from riots and accusations of racial prejudice by police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, to the recent outrage over the arrest and death of Sandra Bland in Waller County, Texas.
“I would like to know if there are any changes to the standards to speak specifically to training for de-escalating situations,” he said.
Walker said there hadn’t been any changes to those policies since the Cary Police Department’s last accreditation, but requirements of officers’ use of force already are included among CALEA’s 484 standards.
“I think what is safe to say is that the Town of Cary police officers are well trained in the policies surrounding the total area of the use of force, including de-escalation,” Walker said.
Bryant said he has a 16-year-old son who just started driving. He’s told his son that if he is pulled over by an officer, he should keep his hands on the steering wheel and, because he’s a minor, to tell the officer he wants to call his parents.
Bryant also thanked the officers at the meeting for protecting his family and said there have been no incidents so far nor cause for concern during his time living in Cary. He came to the public hearing to promote a positive dialogue.
“I don’t want Cary to be in the national news,” Bryant said in an interview. “If we can de-escalate we’ll see a better outcome.”
After the meeting, several officers approached Bryant to talk about the department’s policies and how to facilitate discussion among the black community in Cary.
Nancy Caggia, who is running for the currently vacant District D seat on the Cary Town Council, came to the meeting hoping to hear the public’s feedback on the town’s police department. She said she was disappointed that only one resident spoke at the public hearing.
Two others spoke in support of re-accrediting the Cary Police at the public hearing. John Letteney, chief of the Apex Police Department, and Robert Temme, chief of the Southern Pines Police Department, both recommended the Cary Police Department be re-accredited.
Both police chiefs praised Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore, who is retiring this week.
“She is clearly committed to leading a professional organization that provides the best possible services to the citizens of Cary, that not only meets but exceeds the standards set forth by CALEA,” Letteney said.
Sanfratello said the department won’t know CALEA’s decision until November, but said the visit with assessors went very well.
Wildeman: 919-829-4845, @mkwildeman