Letter: Crime in Salisbury — a touchy subject and important one 

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 20, 2022

Many are aware of recent criminal incidents that have garnered publicity in Rowan County. Beyond the “breaking news,” what do we know about how crime is viewed by our elected officials and law enforcement?

After years of being able to name some of the Salisbury police and community initiatives, yet knowing few specifics, I decided to dig deeper and learn more. I knew about Cease Fire from seeing signs in people’s yards. The Cure Violence model has been part of community conversations and some political platforms for years.

Two things I have learned after reading, talking to those involved and knowledgeable about both programs, watching videos, and hearing in-person interviews are No. 1, both programs are supported by people who genuinely want to make a difference in crime levels and No. 2, both programs profess to view crime as a health issue.

I also found two big differences. Cease Fire is a partnership between the police department and the NAACP and uses unpaid volunteers as “ride along” de-escalators. Cure Violence operates outside of police departments and has trained and paid de-escalators.

We need more information about both programs. Training seems to be an important part of the Cure model. I have not seen evidence of any extensive training for Cease Fire volunteers. What training have our Cease Fire de-escalators received before participating? How are these volunteers held accountable and by whom? How many volunteers have participated on a regular basis since 2019? How many have volunteered within the last 3 months? Since Cure de-escalators are paid, may I assume they are trained, accountable, and insured?

I am concerned that Salisbury City publicity equates Cease Fire + Cure Violence = Salisbury Cease Fire. That is very misleading. The two models operate differently in significant ways.

— Pam Everhardt Bloom