Attorney General Josh Stein highlights public safety in NC

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 26, 2024

Attorney General Josh Stein joined law enforcement leaders earlier this week to highlight public safety efforts and initiatives to make North Carolina communities safer. He discussed his office’s efforts to protect North Carolinians by recruiting and retaining law enforcement officers, solving cold case sexual assaults and addressing the fentanyl crisis.

“Keeping people safe is job one for the state,” Stein said. “I will continue to fight to protect children and families, including advocating for more law enforcement resources. Law enforcement go straight into danger to protect us all — we must put our money where our mouths are and do more to support them. That includes more resources for solving cases, fighting against fentanyl, and recruiting and retaining law enforcement officers.

“Our state has ended the sexual assault kit backlog. But there is more work to do. All these new hits to the database can breathe new life into cold cases — as long as there is someone to work them. That’s why I’m advocating for a cold case unit to support our under-resourced and over-burdened local law enforcement agencies.”

Stein pointed to the widespread and deadly use of fentanyl pervasive throughout the Tar Heel State.

“Fentanyl is a scourge that is killing nine people in North Carolina each day,” Stein said. “Dealers and traffickers are getting rich peddling poison. I am advocating for more prosecutors for a Fentanyl Control Unit so that my office can help local district attorneys prosecute these complex and often cross-jurisdictional cases.”

Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead added, “DCSO is committed to improving safety in all of our communities; those efforts include aggressively going after heigh-level drug dealers who are flooding our streets with fentanyl. With the support of AG Stein, along with our federal and local partnerships, we can continue this life saving work.”

Mebane Police Chief Mitch Mckinney echoed Stein and Birkhead.

“Our commitment to fighting the fentanyl crisis and solving cold case sexual assaults is stronger than ever; thanks to advances in technology, we are much better leveraged to support that commitment,” Mckinney said. “Supporting public safety is a noble profession that remains the keystone of our community’s safety and justice for victims, where recruiting and retaining dedicated individuals is critical to ensuring we can still do the work.”

Like any profession, keeping the right people on the payrolls is key.

“Someone is going to wear the badge, and we want it to be the best and brightest,” Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said. “Recruitment and retention of quality employees is not an issue unique to law enforcement. I think every facet of America’s workforce would agree that the times we live in have changed, so too must the way we recruit and retain our respective employees.”

Apex Police Chief Jason Armstrong added, “The nation is suffering from a shortage of people wanting to do this job. North Carolina has a chance to send a message to future police officers that our state is the place you want to be in law enforcement.”