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Cary leaders meet with residents to address town safety

Posted February 19, 2011

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— Town of Cary leaders and community members met Saturday morning to discuss growing safety concerns after a man held seven people hostage in a bank with what appeared to be a handgun on Feb. 10.

Devon Mitchell, 19, walked into the Wachovia on Green Level Church Road with a toboggan hat he told hostages and police was concealing a gun. Authorities later determined that Mitchell wasn't armed.

The same Wachovia location was robbed in December and a man was murdered at a nearby apartment complex in April.

Several residents expressed concerns about that complex, The Grove at Cary Park, where Mitchell also lived.

"The apartment community is very well aware that you guys are upset, thinking the majority of problems that happen in the area come from that complex," said Police Chief Pat Bazemore, but she said that perception is untrue.

She did say, however, that most crime in the area is drug-related.

Katrina Whitaker lives in The Grove at Cary Park. 

"It's kind of hurtful because it was kind of like a stereotype because it made it seem like all people that are in poverty or living on low incomes have some mentality of wanting to do crime," she said.

Anthony Caggiano has lived in the neighborhood with his wife and three sons since 2006. He said drug activity at the complex is a concern.

"There's a lot of correlation between drug activity and other crimes committed," he said. 

In the last 14 months, there were 38 burglaries, 49 larcenies, three robberies and three aggravated assaults in the Cary Park neighborhood, in the fast-growing western part of the town, police said.

"I think the sense in the neighborhood, certainly my neighborhood specifically, has become very tense in terms of whether we are really living in a safe place," said Cary Park resident Gloria Garver.

Residents asked to meet with police after the hostage standoff to discuss strategies for keeping the area safe. The meeting was held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mills Park Middle School. More than 200 people attended.

"Cary is a safe place... but it doesn't feel safe if you're a victim or feel like you're going to be a victim," said Cary mayor Harold Weinbrecht.

Caggiano said he's glad that Cary police and town leaders took the time to hear area residents' concerns. 

"We're expecting them to do their due diligence and be more proactive, and have a strategic plan (to address crime)," he said. 

Some neighbors expressed concerns that police have no substation in the neighborhood, which affects response times and patrol presence. Cary plans to build a substation and fire station along Carpenter Fire Station Road that would serve the area. It's slated for completion in 2012.

Police encouraged residents to start a neighborhood watch program, but said they did not intend to reconsider the town's long-standing policy against gated communities.

"We want to be a community that embraces everyone. We're a friendly, welcoming community, so we have a policy against (gated communities)," said town councilwoman Jennifer Robinson.


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  • nbcteacher Feb 21, 2011

    "The Grove was there long before most of its neighbors."

    True, but that doesn't mean it's residents should be allowed to commit murder, multiple armed-robberies and drug offenses. All people are asking for is increased police presence to help solve what everyone agrees is a major problem.

  • Jim Britt Feb 21, 2011

    The Grove was there long before most of its neighbors. Maybe the people complaining should have checked into what the neighborhood was like BEFORE they bought the house. As for drug problems, they're in every neighborhood in Wake County.

  • brandonfwatts Feb 21, 2011

    I am pretty sure a Cary Police officer lives in the apartment complex mentioned above!

  • nbcteacher Feb 21, 2011

    "Why in the world would Cary have anything against gated communities??"

    Gated communities could create the perception of a crime problem. The real problem is that Cary spent $187k in legal fees fighting some guy with a sign in his front yard, yet can't spend a few thousand $'s per month protecting law-abiding citizens. Still seems like a nice place to live...the growth is just outpacing the infrastructure.

  • Vietnam Vet Feb 21, 2011

    Why in the world would Cary have anything against gated communities?? That to me sounds like something that would be right up Cary's alley??

  • nbcteacher Feb 21, 2011

    My daughter lives in that area of Cary. Glad to see the mayor finally taking the crime problem in West Cary seriously. Hard to believe that one small apartment complex (Grove at Cary Park) is home to the only murder in Cary last year, the bank robber who robbed Wachovia in December and the criminal who held 7 hostages for 3 hours a few weeks ago. The police chief also acknowledged a serious drug problem at the complex during Saturday's meeting. Just hope they can clean the area up before the next violent crime!

  • tritonlm6 Feb 21, 2011

    Isn't this the projects?

  • clayt85 Feb 21, 2011

    Residents of Cary holding untrue stereotypes about the poor? Say it ain't so!