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Town hit by tornado rallies to clean up crime

Posted May 26, 2009
Updated November 15, 2009

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— After a November storm spawned tornadoes around Kenly, residents came together to pick up the pieces, and their effort has grown to ridding the town of crime and drugs.

Crime down in Kenly after launch of town-watch program Crime down after launch of town-watch program

“Kenly is just too small to have all those crimes around. Just too small. Just too small. We need to work together,” said Margaret Williams, Kenly resident.

Roughly 2,000 people call Kenly home. Outsiders often refer to it as small and quiet, but those living there often saw it differently.

“You're not really comfortable letting your kids play in the yard,” said resident Ellie Johnson.

Johnson and several other residents decided they had had enough. They organized a town watch to try and curb crime, particularly among juveniles.

“The size of our town is probably the size of some of the neighborhoods in some of the larger metropolitan areas,” Johnson said.

The grassroots effort began around the start of the year. Residents started selling town-watch signs just a few weeks ago.

Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson said the effort has made a huge difference so far.

“We've seen a drastic decrease in crime during this time,” Gibson said.

With the help of monthly crime-fighting meetings, crime is down as much as 50 percent over this time last year.

Although the tornadoes first tore so many lives apart, “it set the stage to bring the community together. It really did,” Johnson said.


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  • dlh1046 May 27, 2009

    When they are staying out of trouble, they come around to start trouble. They have taken the little things they can do away from them. What do you expect them to do BUT cause trouble. They need to worry more about these hookers and crack heads walking up and down the road than these little boys. We have had these little boys BEAT officers up because that’s all they do is harass them. I remember a time back in October after a fatal car crash at 301 and 581 killed a young man and a officer was over heard at a garage stating “Good another Drug Dealer off the Street” NO MATTER WHAT THIS MAN DID, HE DID NOT DESERVE TO DIE! For a Man of the LAW he had no right going around telling people he was glad he died! Knowing people heard him and it would get back to the family that was grieving of the loss of a 24 year old! HE WAS STILL A SON, BROTHER, NEPHEW, AND FRIEND! My father had found a wallet in the road, It had the boys ID, SS card, bank card, and birth certificate in it.

  • dlh1046 May 27, 2009

    , after I had already let the MALE officer frisk me. My FIRST TIME going to jail, being arrested and having first hand to deal with these crooked cops. We do have crime involving juveniles I am not saying we don’t. They have taken down the basketball hoops over at the school, They have made a family where A LOT of kids play move there basketball hoop from the front of the house because they played in the road because they got complaints(mind you they have no yard, and what little driveway they have houses there car). As they had 20 people tell them that people are flying down the road almost hitting the kids that they didnt need to be and a sign needed to be put up telling them to slow down that kids were playing, it didn’t matter to them, it pretty much boiled down to the fact that the “white” people were mad that the young “black” boys wouldn’t move out of the road fast enough for them. IN A SMALL TOWN WHY DO THEY NEED TO BE FLYING DOWN A RESIDENTAL NEIGHBORHOOD????

  • dlh1046 May 27, 2009

    As A resident of Kenly I find this RIDICULOUS! The crime rate has dropped due to the fact that everyone is scared to walk around. I remember a time where everyone used to be out walking. Black, Whites, Mexicans it didn’t matter everyone was just walking and talking to see what was going on. Now with these new signs you cant do anything! One phone call to 911 saying they don’t like the person walking up the street and they are there harassing them. Why doesn’t 5 on your side look into the fact we have CROOKED cops in this town. Coming from a small town before moving here, I never thought I would move to a smaller town till I came here. Our town was 3.2 square miles compared to 1.2 here in Kenly. We only had 3 police cars and maybe 6 officers and WE NEVER went through this stuff!! How they plant drugs on people just to take them to jail because they don’t like them. In my case taking me to jail for refusing to shake my boobs in front of the town and the 20 people standing around