To the editor,
The 6 o’clock news doesn’t typically lead off with a feel-good story. Most often, we hear about another shooting in Winston-Salem or Statesville and how police are looking for a suspect last witnessed fleeing from an city crime scene. Sure, they’re stories of local interest, but they don’t hit that close to home. In recent weeks, however, the stories we’ve only heard about on the nightly news have made their way to the front pages of our local papers, and it’s not as easy to flip the channel and ignore crime when it’s creeping into our communities as quickly as it is. However BRAVO to Yadkin Sheriff Office in the multiple arrest in “Operation Winter Storm.” As a former law enforcement officer, these task forces are needed to stop the influx of crime in our community.
Sadly Yadkin County is fighting in a two front crime war. Forsyth to the east, Iredell in the west. In a 50-day period beginning December 1st, Statesville police responded to two homicides, four people shot, another four stabbed, and more than a dozen reports of gunshots. Just weeks ago, a nine-year-old girl named Shakeya Jones was struck and killed after shots were fired into her home. Shakeya’s story, and others like hers, have shocked and disgusted us. Winston-Salem is having shootings deaths almost daily! Seemingly overnight, our peaceful and serene communities began to look more like Baltimore or Chicago than the town we all know and love. My experience is if we don’t get tough on crime, these elements will move into our peaceful Yadkin County.
The most important thing that we can do to stop the rise of violent crime in our communities is to confront it head-on. Politicians and policy-makers often talk about “getting tough on crime” while they’re campaigning, but it’s tough to turn rhetoric into policy when they can’t exactly outline what that means.
I believe that the most obvious place to start is taking further steps to remove these violent offenders from our streets and making sure that they are behind bars where they belong. This largely begins in the courtroom rather than in the back of a squad car. Nine-year-old Shakeya Jones wasn’t spared because of her age, and criminals shouldn’t receive a lesser sentence by using their age as an excuse. Furthermore, we must pursue tougher sentences for violent criminals and repeat offenders. Our courts shouldn’t be shy about throwing the book at anyone who commits a violent crime, especially with a weapon. If it takes action on the part of the state legislature to get there, then that’s what we must do.
We must ensure that local law enforcement officials are given every dollar and resource they need to put more bodies on the streets, serve as a deterrent to crime, and identify and apprehend criminals. Law enforcement is a dangerous job. Of the 125 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2017, five were in North Carolina. As violent crime poses a bigger threat to our community, we cannot ask them to do more with less. I applaud Sheriff Ricky Oliver for the leadership he’s shown in establishing programs like the Operation Winter Storm and other community policing programs.
Lastly, it is important to note the impact that the rise of violent crime could on our community beyond the front pages of the local paper. Recently, Statesville City Councilman John Staford mentioned that he had witnessed these impacts first-hand. Prospective renters, who were moving from out of state, said they felt “Statesville is too dangerous” based on what they’d heard. If we don’t want crime to continue growing and thriving here in Yadkin we must address the recent spike in violent crimes around us by confronting it head-on locally.
Past Congressional District Republican chairman
Past N.C. Lottery commissioner