Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina fended off dozens of threats during the U.S. Open golf tournaments in Pinehurst in 2014, Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry told lawmakers Thursday.
Speaking before an oversight committee, Perry said that some 42 "incidents" of various sorts were prevented by a task force of more than 475 state and local law enforcement officers run by his department during the men's and women's tournaments that summer.
"Over 42 episodes were prevented in Pinehurst that people will never know about, from stalking to environmental groups that wanted to travel even from London to interfere, even with violence," he told the committee.
Perry was responding to a question from Sen. Stan Bingham, D-Davidson, about whether the state was equipped to handle the threats that come along with hosting major events, such as the U.S. Open.
"Not as well as we should be," Perry said, before launching into a plug for his department's efforts to predict and prevent crime before it happens.
As an example of the type of incidents prevented, he cited a stalker who was in disguise at the Women's U.S. Open even though one of the golfers had a restraining order against him.
Perry added that there were "two other groups ... (of) environmental terrorists who wanted to do certain things to certain organizations and companies represented in Pinehurst. A lot of that was picked up by methods that are technical. I'm proud of that result."
Gangs growing in NC
Perry also warned lawmakers that North Carolina was dealing with a burgeoning gang problem. One of every seven prison inmates, he said, has some gang affiliation.
"Gangs are a major problem across the board," he said, adding that the state is tracking 314 gangs. "I talk to sheriffs who believe 90 percent of the violent crimes in their counties is due to gangs."
Asked by Rep. Charles Graham, D-Robeson, about dealing with gangs in rural schools, Perry said that the Governor's Crime Commission has money available to help local schools and law enforcement combat gang problems.
Of the 314 gangs being tracked, Perry said "most of those are active in our public schools." Of those, "50 percent of those gang members are with one gang, which I prefer not to name."