Blog: DPS Dispatch

Navigating the uncharted waters of a modern-day pandemic has been difficult and challenging for everyone, particularly for people working and living in congregate housing settings. That’s one reason DPS is using existing provisions in state law to reduce the prison population to help reduce the spread of the virus.

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One of the most important – yet easily overlooked – ways to be disaster ready is making sure you have critical information stored in a safe place. Having copies of your identification, financial and legal documentation, medical information and critical contacts in a secure, easily accessible location will help you more quickly recover after a disaster. 

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A major change has arrived in the Juvenile Justice section, for the second time in just nine months. Last December, North Carolina’s juvenile justice system began implementing “Raise the Age,” providing most youth aged 16 and 17 who commit crimes with access to services through Juvenile Justice, rather than adult court. Some offenses, however, must by statute be heard from beginning to end in the criminal court (adult) system.

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COVID-19 has affected our lives in so many ways. That is especially true when it comes to sheltering plans during an emergency. We are approaching the peak of hurricane season and the landscape for evacuation shelters is drastically different this year. North Carolina Emergency Management officials want you to know what to expect at shelters this year so that you can begin preparing. Prepare, prepare, prepare and prepare some more 

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August is Preparedness Month in North Carolina. So, it’s somewhat fitting that the month kicked off with a hurricane that brought flooding, damaging winds and tornadoes to the eastern portion of the state. Not to mention the first week ended with a rare magnitude 5.1 earthquake felt throughout the region.  Yes, the first week of preparedness month was a stark reminder that North Carolina experiences multiple hazards, some of which occur with little to no warning. 

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Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed August as Reentry Month in North Carolina, a time to highlight efforts at the local, state and federal level to assist formally incarcerated individuals with a smooth transition back into their communities.  Every year, thousands of individuals complete their sentences in the state’s correctional facilities. These people face many challenges. They need a place to live, a job, transportation and assistance creating a healthy life.  What is Reentry?

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Tucked away off Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh in the same secure facility as the NC National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters is the North Carolina State Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Many members of the NC Emergency Management (NCEM) team work here daily, but in times of emergency or during disasters, this building is transformed into an operational war center of state and federal agencies, nonprofit relief organizations, faith-based organizations and some private sector companies.

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Law enforcement and first responders work tirelessly to keep the public safe day and night. They navigate the roads, especially in times of emergencies, to ensure that everyone remains safe. During these times, it is important that drivers respond correctly to qualified vehicles with flashing lights (e.g. law enforcement, EMS, fire, tow truck and utility vehicles). Let’s briefly review procedures to ensure the roadways are safe for the public, law enforcement and first responders. The Move Over Law

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Becoming a PPO

This week we celebrated the probation and parole officers (PPO) of North Carolina. We thanked them for their service to our communities and all they do to help keep us safe. These sworn law enforcement officers supervise offenders to ensure compliance with court orders, elevate offenders’ needs to successfully complete probation or parole, and counsel offenders regarding treatment. With so many job duties, do you know what it takes to become a PPO with the Department of Public Safety? PPO Requirements and qualifications

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Jerlene Epley, one of hundreds of employees who worked at Western Youth Institution during its 41 years of operation, saw it built from the ground-up. On Saturday, June 11, she will see the “High Rise” fall back to the earth. The 89-year-old Epley, one of the first female employees hired when the Morganton prison opened in 1972, will be on-site this weekend when the former 16-story facility is imploded to make room for a regional N.C. National Guard training center.  Staff of the Western Youth Institution during the facility's early years (above) and the building earlier this year.

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Summer is upon us, bringing weekend getaways, barbecues, pool excursions and more across the state. This year, summer plans may look a bit different as North Carolina kicks off July in Phase 2 “Safer at Home” as we continue the fight against COVID-19. While some extra precautions and planning may be necessary over the next few months, there are plenty of ways to have an enjoyable and safe summer. Here are a few safety tips no matter what your plans hold. Travel Safely

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Raise the Age – which increased the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include 16 and 17-year-old children – is bringing an older population in need of services to the Juvenile Justice section of the N.C. Department of Public Safety. The section’s Juvenile Community Programs unit has answered this call for services recently with the opening of a new transitional home in Winston-Salem.

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Memorial Day typically marks the beginning of summer travel, but this year has been anything but typical. Many will choose to remain "Safer at Home" this weekend even as North Carolina moves into Phase 2 easing COVID-19 restrictions. Still, others will choose to venture out. For those who choose to travel, here's a list of highway driving tips that can help ensure you and others on the road arrive safely,  Check and prepare your vehicle before leaving

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Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, offenders in North Carolina prisons who needed specialty visits to outside medical centers for treatment of physical ailments could spend an entire day traveling across the state to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, transported by correctional officers. That could provide security challenges depending on the facility’s vacancy rate. During this pandemic, transportation outside of a facility also brings the potential for COVID-19 infection.

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