City, county, school leaders will discuss youth public safety during forum

Published 3:40 pm Wednesday, February 9, 2022

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — City, county and school system leaders will gather at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church for an open forum to discuss public safety concerns among the community’s youth.

Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Roy Dennis, who’s also a member of the Police Chief’s Advisory Council, said the discussion is a continuation of a community safety forum held Sept. 30. Members of the public can attend, but social distancing and face masks are required. The church’s location is 719 S. Caldwell St. in Salisbury.

Anne Little, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the city of Salisbury, will moderate the forum discussion.

Six panelists will spend about five minutes each sharing professional insight about their involvement with the community’s youth. Panelists include LaTanya Hardy of S&H Youth and Adult Services; James Davis of Communities in Schools Rowan; Detective J.R. Drakeford of Salisbury Police; Karen South Jones of Rowan County Youth Services Bureau; Pastor Tim Bates of Man Up Mondays; and Shonda Hairston, the executive director for elementary schools in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools district.

Following their remarks, the discussion will open up to leaders and members of the public, with each person granted about three minutes to ask questions or make comments. Dennis said there is a “next steps” discussion following the open session, where city and county leaders may discuss initiatives addressing community safety for youth.

Dennis said members of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and Salisbury City Council will be present in addition to Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes.

The forum comes a little more than a month after a shooting at the Sam Moir Christmas Classic basketball tournament hosted by Rowan-Salisbury Schools and held at Catawba College. Two juveniles were charged with attempted murder. The shooting also prompted a series of security changes, including metal detectors at sporting events.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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