Local News

Rocky Mount residents divided over task force participation

Posted November 9, 2015 6:45 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2015 9:36 p.m. EST

— 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.