Local News

Rocky Mount residents divided over task force participation

Posted November 9, 2015

— Rocky Mount residents are clashing with the police chief over whether or not the city has a problem with gangs and drugs.

Many Rocky Mount residents are upset that Chief James Moore opted out of a multi-agency task force while others believe participation will do more harm than good.

The Nash County Sheriff’s Office will lead the gang and drug task force that is expected to start in February. Major Dennis Wooten with the Nash County Sheriff’s Office said that agencies in Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson Counties will participate. The idea is to form a team that will have jurisdiction in multiple counties for cases related to gangs and drugs.

"It allows for good information sharing, real-time information sharing. Instead of coming to work and having four or five people working on gangs and drugs, we've got a whole pot full of people now," said Wooten.

Moore chose not to have his agency participate, but Wooten said he did not know the reason behind the decision.

“I don’t think it will impact this task force at all because, as it is now even before we get started, we still have jurisdiction inside the city of Rocky Mount and we still work cases there and we're still going to, ” said Wooten.

There was a clear difference of opinions between Rocky Mount residents who spoke at a City Council meeting Monday night.

"I'm not sure our police force recognizes and is putting enough emphasis on the gang problem," said resident Christy Taylor.

"We are giving the police chief a bad rap. The police chief is doing the best that he can with the resources that he has," countered resident Nehemiah Smith, Jr.

Some said they believe that Moore's decision to opt-out of participating in the task force could result in an increase in violent crime rates.

"They don't seem to understand that gangs are killing each other in our community and if they don't do something more, gangs are going to continue to kill each other," said Taylor "We've had eleven people killed so far this year. Every single one of them is under the age of 29, except for one."

Others believe that the task force isn't truly about the crimes at all, and would hinder what they view as progress being made.

"Moving officers that are already actively engaged in the city limits of Rocky Mount into activity on Interstate 95, looking for potential individuals who might possibly commit crimes is nothing short of racial profiling," said City Councilman Reuben Blackwell.


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  • Nechelle Burt Nov 10, 2015
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    It is sad to see our leaders in denial. There is a gang problem in Rocky Mount, Nash and Edgecombe counties. If there wasn't how come those 2 counties were the first in the state to us the new gang law and convict and sentence people with felonies for gang related activities. Rocky Mount has always been a town divided by the tracks, but come on, it's time to put our differences aside and pool our resources to make the community a safe place to live. It is past time for the community to protect our children. To find positive outlets , safe environments for them to grow and thrive.

    Please pull your head out of the sand people and see what the gangs are doing to our city, our children, our elderly, and our state!!!

  • Ronnie Peacock Nov 10, 2015
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    Reuben Blackwell and the members of the city council, other than Bill Bulluck, are an embarrassment to Rocky Mount. Unfortunately, the black residents of the city continue to accept them, even though they simply play the race card for everything. Nehemiah Smith says "the police chief is doing the best that he can with the resources he has." Well, light bulb, he's being offered more resources and is turning it down because it doesn't fit the city council's political agenda with the race card! Shameful, especially in light of the drive-by killing of a 15 year-old in broad daylight just last Friday afternoon.

  • David Jones Nov 10, 2015
    user avatar

    Those train tracks running through the middle of the town really do cleave the city into two camps. Very sad.

  • Dan Wilder Nov 10, 2015
    user avatar

    Rocky Mount has gotten a bad reputation as being riddled with crime and gang activity. Some one needs to get control of the situation before the town becomes a pariah in the state to be avoided by decent people, It will affect growth and economic opportunity. Nash County already has jurisdiction inside Rocky Mount anyway.

  • David Bunn Nov 9, 2015
    user avatar

    The Rocky Mount residents are afraid that the LEO's will be able to do their duties. A goodly portion of the population is being supported by the criminal element.

  • Curmilus Dancy II Nov 9, 2015
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    Sad this is about control coming from the Nash County Sheriff Department. This was a part of the campaign and now they are trying to make it happen.

    I concur with the Rocky Mount Chief.

    This is all about Nash County being in control because they are mad that Rocky Mount has a black majority council and a black police chief.

    This is the powers that be in action.

    It was the school system Nash vs Edgecombe recently and now here we go again with the police department.