The police department here is still evaluating a future policy for body cameras, Captain Joe Binns said.
But despite an officer-involved shooting in a south Raleigh neighborhood, it doesn’t mean they are in a rush to get them.
“Fortunately for us, we’re not in a community that believes that is something that is necessary,” Binns said. “We have a lot of support from our community that there is not an outcry for body cameras.”
Bins said there are still a lot of unknowns and legal issues that need to be worked out at the state level before the department presents their findings to the council, including such issues as releasing footage to the public, when it becomes and what is public record, and when to turn it on.
“We’re waiting for those questions to be answered before they go into deployment,” Binns said. “We’re not in a rush.”
A preliminary autopsy shows that Akiel Denkins was shot four times by a Raleigh police officer earlier this week, including one shot to his chest.
Denkins, 24, was shot and killed early Monday afternoon by officer D.C. Twiddy after Twiddy attempted to arrest him on an outstanding felony drug charge. Police and witnesses agree that Twiddy spotted Denkins outside PJ's Grill & Groceries at 503 East Bragg St., just south of downtown, and that Denkins ran with Twiddy in pursuit.
Tensions were high in the neighborhood Monday night, but the residents there remained peaceful. On Tuesday, they protested in downtown Raleigh peacefully also.
Binns declined to comment on whether that shooting would affect any decisions Garner made in the near future.
“I don’t really want to comment on what’s going on in another jurisdiction,” he said. “Obviously our department trains appropriately to make the correct decisions in any use of force situation.”
In 2014, the most recent data available, there were 44 incidents where force was used 63 times in Garner. The difference in figures means different uses of force could have been used in one incident, or two officers could have used force in one incident. Thirty-four incidents involved pointing a firearm, eight involved taser deployment, 15 involved physical force, three involved use of a K-9 and three involved accidental or negligent discharge of a weapon.
The Garner Police Department has undergone a number of efforts in recent years to nurture the relationship between the police department and the community. In 2015, the police department hosted discussions with different communities in Garner to get a sense of the residents’ perceptions of the police, and worked through ways they could create transparency.
It also created Garner Police Athletic Activities League (PAAL) a program focused on creating relationships and trust with youth through sports and other activities, thus dispelling the perception that “officers are the enemy” – particularly in communities of color – when they get older.
The town council also in 2015 approved a police recruit position that allows the department to go out and recruit people in the community and pay them as they go through Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET). The department is hoping that it will attract more minorities and women, which make up only a small portion of police department staffs in Garner and across the country.
And last month, the police department showed a few students what it was like to be an officer for a day, something they plan to continue in the near future.
Eli Chavez, 22, of Garner, who lives in Sunset Acres said she would be in favor of the Garner Police using body cameras.
“If that is a way to then control shooting in the streets, or people dying then, yes,” Chavez said.
Quanda Martinez, 28, who also lives in Sunset Acres, said she doesn’t believe the Garner Police Department should rush to get body cameras.
“It’s not really much (that goes on this side) of town as on that side of town,” Martinez said. “Probably on this side of town, there’s little petty stuff. Nothing serious.”
She said her experience with the Garner police is such that the department typically follows the proper procedures.
“But what happened (Monday) afternoon, (the Raleigh police) really do need it,” she said.