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Violence has “settled down” police chief, sheriff report

Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins and Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten say Salisbury has gotten quieter since their agencies teamed up following a rash of shootings in September.

And the two law enforcement leaders repeated Tuesday that the shootings weren’t random, but involved people who already knew one another.

Collins and Auten provided an update on their partnership during the Salisbury Rotary Club’s regular meeting.

The two departments joined forces in September to fight an outbreak of violent crime in Salisbury. But it’s fairly common for them to work together, Collins said.

“We are both of the opinion that together we can get so much more done than if we’re working apart,” Collins said.

September’s team-up meant a sharing of manpower that allowed police and deputies to hit the streets hard in order to stem the flow of gun violence. Several shootings were reported on the western edge of Salisbury during September, with a large portion being concentrated in neighborhoods near Salisbury High School, Collins said. But they weren’t random acts of violence.

“That type of activity was acquaintance driven, 100 percent,” he said.

Auten said that Salisbury-Rowan doesn’t have “random shootings.”

“I think we have a very small group causing most of our problems,” he said.

While Collins reports that the incidents have settled down investigations are still ongoing. One of the issues is that police keep running into a roadblock of silence. No one — victims, families or witnesses — is talking.

However, police and the Sheriff’s Office believe that the worst is over. Collins says that his team keeps an eye on social media chatter in an attempt to stop crimes before they happen, and reported that much of the conversation around the shootings focused on those responsible packing up and moving on.

“I would call it a huge success,” Collins said.

Collins also gave the department’s quarterly report on crime. In comparison with 2014’s third quarter, there was an 18.8 percent decrease in major crime, a 20.2 percent decrease in property crime, and a 6.3 decrease in violent crime.

“It would have been significantly less had we not had that rash,” he said.

He reported that the Salisbury Police Department is looking to fill two of its five vacancies this month, and they’ve begun offering incentives for officers looking to further their education. Auten says the Sheriff’s Office is focusing on fine tuning re-entry programs and lauded the success of the CrimeStoppers program.

Together, they hope to make Salisbury-Rowan a better, safer place.

“There’s not a whole lot we’re not going to be able to accomplish together,” Collins said.

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