Public Safety

The Wake County Board of Commissioners identified four goals in the Public Safety key focus area. Select a goal from the list below to learn more about the rationale, objectives, links to comprehensive plans or resources, community indicators and performance measures, and strategies.

PS 1: Address equity in the criminal justice system.

Rationale

Wake County believes that criminal justice institutions must ensure racial and ethnic equity and operate accordingly. While the County acknowledges existing justice system disparities, it seeks to seize this moment to bring people together and facilitate conversations to improve criminal justice policies and practices. Wake County envisions a safe and just approach, where all residents feel equally served and protected in a way that builds a civil society for the entire community.

Objectives:

  • Implement equitable criminal justice policies and practices
  • Eliminate disparities in criminal justice policies and practices
  • Increase trust between the community and criminal justice officers
  • Support the Wake County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council

Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Workforce diversity in law enforcement agencies
  • Percent of youth involved in the juvenile justice system
  • Juvenile relative rate index (racial comparison of juvenile crimes)

Example Strategies:

  • PS 1.1: Engage the community through partnerships to support and improve criminal justice equity
  • PS 1.2: Identify and implement potential criminal justice reforms through partnerships, including municipalities and law enforcement agencies
    • Explore potential reforms including:
      • Proactively recruit diverse deputies/officers,
      • Support a ban on chokeholds,
      • Deploy the right people, with the proper training,
      • Community Safety Task Force,
      • Availability of booking photos (mugshots), and
      • Programming to prevent victimization and to better serve existing victims.

PS 2: Support justice-involved residents rejoining the community to improve health and well-being.

Rationale

Part of building a safe and just community involves the reintegration of the County's justice-involved residents and ensuring that they have what they need to succeed. The County seeks to preserve the dignity of individuals who have served their time while implementing and maintaining systems to help them return to a productive and law-abiding life. These efforts involve a three-pronged approach: 1) support to prevent people from being arrested and addressing issues before they escalate to law enforcement involvement; 2) rehabilitation programs within the jail; and 3) transition resources as individuals are released back into the community after serving their time.

Objectives:

  • Encourage and support effective prevention strategies that reduce criminal behavior
  • Balance community safety, concern for victims, and the rights and needs of individuals facing criminal charges
  • Increase substance use and behavioral treatment options
  • Increase access to education programs
  • Improve the successful reintegration of justice-involved residents into the community
  • Create opportunities for self-sufficiency
  • Reduce criminal recidivism15

Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Pretrial electronic monitoring compliance
  • Pretrial release program success rate16
  • Detention center education cohort participants who completed a program
  • Detention center job training participants who earn credentialing17
  • Number of people who find post-release employment within six months

Example Strategies:

  • PS 2.1: Support efforts by criminal justice partners to expand diversion programs
    • Diversion programs include
      • Bail reform,
      • Citations versus arrest,
      • Recovery court,
      • Pretrial services and
      • Explore the use of overdose mapping software.
  • PS 2.2: Continue existing detention-based programs and evaluate new plans for those in the Wake County Detention Center
    • Detention center programs include
      • Mental health assistance,
      • Education and job-training programs,
      • Career counseling,
      • Peer counseling with letter writing,
      • Life skills training,
      • Medication management (Including medically assisted treatment) and
      • Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous and anger management.
  • PS 2.3: Explore and support the implementation of re-entry strategies for residents exiting the criminal justice system
    • Re-entry programs include
      • Plan development through counseling,
      • Medication and prescription management,
      • Transportation and transit passes,
      • Connections to housing, employment and health care opportunities,
      • Encourage consideration of and application to the WakeWorks apprenticeship program,
      • Apply for/or reinstate benefits,
      • Expungements and
      • Peer counseling.
         

15 Need a clear definition for recidivism.
16 Success is defined as an individual: showing up for court and not being rearrested, or not being issued a ‘failure to appear,’ or having a pre-trial release revoked.
17 Credentialing includes ServSafe, Restaurant Server, Customer Services or other offered career credentials available at the Wake County Detention Center.

PS 3: Provide high quality and sustainable public safety services to meet the community's current and future needs.

Rationale

During a crisis, public safety services – including law enforcement, EMS, and fire services – must respond in a timely and appropriate manner. Residents need to know that when they dial 911, a well-trained and well-equipped person will show up to help. Wake County is committed to efficiently protecting all community members based on best practices, prevention, continual improvement and service consistency.

Objectives:

  • Enhance emergency preparedness and readiness
  • Identify and reduce potential hazards
  • Ensure timely and appropriate responses
  • Build and strengthen public safety agency partnerships
  • Encourage and support coordination and the efficient use of resources between public safety agencies
  • Support appropriate training and certification for public safety employees and volunteers
  • Expand de-escalation skills and techniques

Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Identified high-risk facilities/issues
  • Mandated one-year (high-risk) fire inspections
  • Average fire response time among fire tax district departments
  • Number of public safety employees and volunteers receiving training
  • Number of Wake EMS ESTAT occurrences and average duration per occurrence18

Example Strategies:

  • PS 3.1: Establish a County-wide standard for fire service in the unincorporated areas and develop an operating and financial plan to achieve and sustain agreed-upon service levels
  • PS 3.2: Support the Local Emergency Planning Committee's work to improve communications and preparedness related to hazardous materials risks and potentially hazardous sites
  • PS 3.3: Implement programs to assist public safety personnel when working with the community, particularly those with mental illness
     

18 ESTAT is defined as having only 10 ambulances available in the county for emergency response.

PS 4: Ensure that first responders' diversity, health and well-being are integral parts of all public safety agencies.

Rationale

Public safety is only possible because of the hard work and dedication of first responders. Wake County is committed to taking care of first responders and improving their physical and behavioral health. Improving access to and participation in health and wellness programs is essential to supporting first responders. In addition, Wake County also recognizes that government is strongest when it includes people from diverse walks of life who fully represent all constituents. To support representation in the County's public safety agencies, the County seeks to promote appropriate volunteerism in fire service, increase diversity in hiring first responders and increase community involvement.

Objectives:

  • Increase diversity within public safety agencies
  • Attract, support and retain a diverse group of public safety volunteers
  • Ensure that all public agency employees and volunteers have access to high-quality medical and behavioral health services
  • Improve the overall physical health and well-being of public safety personnel and volunteers

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • New hire diversity
  • Health and wellness assessments
  • Public safety agency employee and volunteer retention
  • Number of fire service volunteers

Example Strategies:

  • PS 4.1: Continue programs and evaluate strategies that support public safety employees affected by traumatic on-the-job experiences