Raleigh City Manager Marchell Adams-David is expected to announce one of three finalist as Raleigh’s next police chief soon, with outgoing Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown’s last day of work just two weeks away.
Following a nationwide search, the city zeroed in on three candidates to lead the city’s police force: Charlotte Deputy Chief Estella Patterson, Cambridge, Massachusetts Deputy Superintendent Robert Lowe, and Maryland National Park Police chief Darryl McSwain.
Deck-Brown’s retirement after 33 years with the department came following a year of unrest, which included the enactment of a police advisory board she vehemently opposed and summer of protest for police accountability. Though she hoped to retire earlier by April, she was asked to stay on board a few extra months as the city’s search for a new chief was delayed. Deck-Brown is salaried at about $193,000 and is expected to retire July 1 once the new chief is sworn in.
The three finalists fielded questions last week at a public forum, sharing their values and vision for the future of Raleigh PD.
Patterson stood out as charismatic and sharp, and her experience in Charlotte-Mecklenburg last year during protests could prove valuable in Raleigh. She also emphasized community engagement, transparency, and accountability during the forum.
“We are at a time now in policing where it is more important than ever that we begin to rebuild the relationships in the community,” Patterson said.
Patterson’s record on accountability has been brought into question, though. As first reported by WRAL, Patterson defended an officer shown in a video holding a gun to a man’s head. She didn’t reply to WRAL’s request for comment on the matter.
Lowe, who sports a thick Boston accent, was also impressive. He said he hopes targeted education and support for vulnerable groups could help build trust in the community. When it comes to police accountability and Black Lives Matter, Lowe says he thinks the department could embrace both.
“I believe we can support change and we can support police at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive,” Lowe said. “Until we address the issue of systemic racism in policing, we are not going to move forward.”
While McSwain, who appears to be the oldest candidate, has the charisma of a textbook, he shared several progressive ideas, including enhanced mental health training. His most recent experience is in a position overseeing the Maryland park system, which is visited by millions each year, and he has served for three decades at the Montgomery Police Department.
“I would not just see this as just a job, but more importantly, as a sacred trust between me, the governor, and every citizen within the City for Raleigh,” McSwain said.
The city is in the final process of vetting the candidates, including verifying the results of drug screenings and reference checks. It’s unclear how long that process will take.
City Council member Jonathan Melton said that although he’s not involved in the decision-making, he trusts Adams-David’s judgement. Adams-David was appointed city manager late last year, following the departure of former manager Ruffin Hall.
“I know they have engaged in a very thorough interview process, selection process, the community has been involved, PACT, the command staff at RPD, they really pulled a lot of folks in,” Melton said. “Whoever Marchell picks, I have great confidence in her ability to make the right hire.”
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.
Follow Senior Staff Writer Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.