Running for governor, AG Josh Stein proposes ‘public safety’ package 

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaks about crime prevention and public safety measures at a news conference Monday, May 1, 2023, at the Department of Justice building in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum)

RALEIGH — Now a candidate for governor, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has issued a “public safety” package. 

“The package includes measures to combat drugs, support law enforcement officers, protect kids, test sexual assault kits, improve public safety, and fight fraud,” a press release from Stein’s office said.  

“Protecting the people of this state has to be job one,” Stein said in the release. “I’m fighting to keep people safe from violent crime, drugs, and fraud, and I’ll always do everything in my power to hold criminals accountable.” 

This appears to be the first package of its kind issued by Stein in his seven years as the state’s attorney general.  

The press release quotes House Minority Leader Robert Reives (D-Chatham) describing restrictions on firearms in Stein’s package like “red flag” laws and raising the age to buy certain weapons to 21. 

“One of our fundamental duties to North Carolinians is to ensure they are safe,” said Reives. “Our caucus has offered a number of bills that would do just that: Red Flag Laws that keep guns out of the hands of people who would harm themselves or others, raising the age to buy certain weapons to 21, and promoting school safety with more resources in classrooms.” 

The restrictions on firearms in Stein’s package all fall under the section titled “protecting kids” and include universal background checks to “Keep guns out of the hands of violent felons, people with serious mental illness, people on the no-fly list, and people with outstanding domestic violence protective orders.” 

Additionally, Stein’s “protecting kids” section on raising the age of purchases to 21 to “ensure that North Carolinians under 21 — who are too young to buy a beer — are too young to purchase military-grade weapons.” 

Senate Bill 41, which was passed and enacted into law after a veto override, includes a public awareness campaign for safe gun storage. 

Stein offers several options to fight fentanyl and opioids, like creating a “Fentanyl Control Unit,” but other drug crimes and issues were not mentioned.  

The Racial Equity Task Force Stein co-chairs was also not mentioned in the press statement or Stein’s public safety package. The task force had released recommendations that called for the weakening of penalties for certain drug offenses. 

Stein’s package also wants to establish a cold case unit to close cases with DNA hits from sexual assault cases and higher salaries for crime lab staff to help with the retention of talent.  

Under Stein’s tenure, the state had 15,000 untested rape kits in 2017, making the state No. 1 in the nation for untested kits. Legislation offered up more funding to test kits, however, the backlog has persisted. According to early March numbers posted on the data dashboard maintained by Stein’s office, the number of kits in inventory stood at 16,223. 

In terms of promoting public safety, Stein makes no mention of fighting the lawsuit against the new rioting and civil disorder penalties filed by the ACLU of North Carolina. Instead, Stein proposes more funding to require all officers to wear body cameras and a “Court Reminder System” that would send text messages to people for court appointments. 

Stein has also recently released a plan to address law enforcement officer shortages that includes recruiting out-of-state officers, hiring bonuses, a public awareness recruitment campaign, education fellowships and a path to allow retired officers to return to the job. 

Some of the plans for law enforcement shortages are also in the public safety package, such as wanting graduates of basic law enforcement training in the state to be offered a $5,000 bonus. Similarly, Stein wants out-of-state transfers and former military police to get a $10,000 bonus and a $10,000 relocation stipend. 

About A.P. Dillon 979 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_