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Walker Column: Crime Resolutions

Like many people, I’ve made countless New Year’s resolutions over my lifetime and have promptly broken some or all of them by the end of the month.

Just search for New Year’s resolutions and you’ll find “top 10 ways to keep resolutions,” “ideas on what to resolve to do this year,” or “how to make better resolutions.”

Post Editor Elizabeth Cook recently asked us reporters what were our resolutions for our particular beat. I quickly answered that I plan to go beyond just the police blotter.

As the crime reporter for the Post, I write about the robberies, murders, fires, wrecks and sometimes inclement weather, but I also compile the blotter. There are days when I may just have come into the office from a wreck and then turn around and cover a fire. The thing I tell people is, news, particularly crime, happens all of the time and it’s the one thing about this job you can’t predict.

I believe I average about 10 or more stories a week and who knows how many I’ve actually written in a given year. I’ve got a knack for remembering most, but not all. There are high-profile cases that automatically warrant next day stories. And then there are stories like Salisbury teen Erica Parsons, who has been missing for over three years. Well, I’ve written many “next day” stories about her mysterious disappearance and the recent troubles her adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons, have faced with federal courts.

But I can admit that as a journalist, sometimes I, and I know I’m not alone here, fail to follow up a story (gasp). Often stories get lost in the other day-to-day work you have to do. Often times, dare I say it, another equally compelling story takes its place and you tend to lose track of the previous stories.

I said all of that to say this. My resolution or goal this year is to write a next day story. Currently I have a few next day stories already on my list. In order to make me more accountable, I’m challenging you (yes, you reading this) to call me, email me, write me or just ask me if you see me, about a story that you are curious about. If you want more details and I’m able to find them within my means, then I will.

And now that you know what my top resolution is, I decided to ask the heads of the city and county law enforcement to see what they have in mind for this year:

Sheriff Kevin Auten

• Customer Relations

Auten said it’s important to him that his office improve customer relations beyond responding to an incident, but following up with the victim in a case.

He expects to be able to meet this goal with the help of four new officers who were hired. Not having enough staff could lead to delayed calls, he said.

• Detention Center

The number of people housed in the jail are down, he said, because of the jail annex. However, with the institution of the Justice Re-Investment Act, county jails are allowed to incarcerate misdemeanor offenders who may not have committed a crime in Rowan County.

• Reaching the youth

A large priority for Auten is making sure that when the grant funds run out there will be some money available to keep school resource officers in middle schools. He said one day he hopes all of the elementary schools will have SROs on campus.

• Child Support

In the latter part of 2014, the sheriff’s office created a Facebook page that showed men and women who had not paid child support or were behind on child support. The first week the social media page was created, the agency had numerous arrests.

Police Chief Rory Collins

• Continue with efforts to establish new relationships with our citizens and strengthening those we’ve successfully built.

Collins has spoke at length throughout 2014 about how important it is for him to create new relationships and bridge the gap where there may have not been any. So to do that Collins said he plans to host community meetings within various neighborhoods throughout the city.

There has been some issues with residents who live in the West End regarding crime in their community. The police department has worked toward a goal that will satisfy the citizens there and address crime and other concerns.

“These would be conducted in addition to our regular SNAG meetings, and would be open only to hose individuals who reside within that particular neighborhood,” he said.

He said the intent of these meetings is to get to know citizens better and to learn of ways in which the police department could better serve their needs “as we strive to improve their quality of life.”

• Implement a Citizens Police Academy (most likely in the fall of the year).

• Work with the Salisbury-Rowan Project SAFE Neighborhoods Program in order to expand upon existing initiatives in order to more effectively address gang, drug, and violent crime issues.
• Strengthen employee hiring and retention abilities through enhanced career development initiatives.

• Continue efforts toward the professional development of our department’s leadership team as well as non-supervisory staff.

Here’s to hoping everyone, myself included, keeps their resolutions this year.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.





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