Local News

'Street Engagement Team' Battles Rocky Mount's Crime

Posted September 5, 2007

— The Rocky Mount Police Department has formed a “Street Engagement Team” to put more cops on the streets in response to a rise in violent crime, officials announced.

Five people were shot, one of them fatally, last month inside a Rocky Mount night club. Two days later, another man was murdered in retaliation. Police said it was all tied to a turf war.

The recent killings made 11 murders in Rocky Mount this year, the most in one year since 1999 and five short of the record.

“I'm not saying we've got a rise in gang activity. What I'm saying is there is a rise in the violent crime associated with different groups,” said Capt. J. Wayne Sears. “Anytime there is a rise in violent crime, our citizens are concerned. We're concerned for them, and that's our responsibility.”

At least 10 additional officers per shift, from various divisions, will patrol problem areas as part of the “Street Engagement Team.” The officers will be more visible and proactive, officials said. They won’t be tied to answering other service calls.

In its first week, the team arrested 16 people and confiscated drugs, at least six guns and other weapons.

“It’s hard to commit a crime when a policeman is standing there looking at you,” Sears said.

Rocky Mount took similar steps in January after several murders happened in a row. Sears said it helped reduce violent crime for several months.

“We've seen a spike back up, so we've gone back and re-addressed it just like we did,” he said.

Police officials said the team will remain on the street until the violence is under control. Most of the violent crime has been concentrated in isolated areas around the city, authorities said.

The team does most of its work on overnight shifts.


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  • lizard Sep 6, 2007

    They need to get in touch with the community. They need to meet with them and hear their concerns. They need to think outside the box. They need to get into the schools and,,,and reach out. They need to be more COMMUNITY ORIENTED!,,,,,blah, blah ,blah.

  • hdvoodooqueen Sep 6, 2007

    I work in RM and I'm not too sure Walmart is safe in broad daylight. I carry my OWN protection.

  • Bing Used Sep 6, 2007

    If it is so hard to commit a crime when a policeman is looking at you, why was that RMT police officer shot? (He must not have been looking!)

  • Public Servant Sep 6, 2007

    This plan loks really nice on paper "at least 10 officers per shift". Where are they coming from? What the report isn't telling you, is about the police department that is incredibly short-staffed, and now forced into working mass amounts of overtime. Capt Sears - what were you thinking, or were you? Why don't you just say it "WE HAVE A GANG PROBLEM!!! It's too late to be politically correct. Rocky Mount needs to call in the National Guard, and put the entire city on lockdown after dark!!!!

  • Hip-Shot Sep 5, 2007

    "Shut down the club - if it's a 'turf' area, rescind their business license and get rid of the draw of these thugs."

    The problem is that they'll just go elsewhere. Its to the point(in RMT) that my wife will not go to the Wal-Mart alone at night. Rocky Mount is not a very pretty place after dark and a lot of people feel increasingly threatened.

  • moi_oc Sep 5, 2007

    When is a group a gang, and when is a gang merely a group? Word play is not a good way to approach fighting crime. Truth in labeling would help. So would bigger jails and longer prison terms.

  • viper2880 Sep 5, 2007

    I wonder If there will be any white people left in Rocky Mount in about 5 years!! This crime is crazy.

  • Its me again Sep 5, 2007

    Rocky Mount's master plan: wait for cold weather,crime will go down,problem solved ha! ha!
    Seriously until we recognize we do have a problem with gangs and a corrupt city council Rocky Mount will continue to slide.20 years ago I felt safe in this city now I avoid too many places that I shouldn't have to.

  • anonemoose Sep 5, 2007

    Define "under control"... Is one shooting a week acceptable, two?? At what point do you let the thugs have the streets back, like you did in January.

  • Nancy Sep 5, 2007

    Shut down the club - if it's a 'turf' area, rescind their business license and get rid of the draw of these thugs.