12/09/12 — City, police, community target crime

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City, police, community target crime

By John Joyce
Published in News on December 9, 2012 1:50 AM

The Goldsboro Police Department and the city of Goldsboro are uniting with the community in a program they hope will significantly reduce violent crime in and around the city.

Police hope those who attended an organizational meeting Thursday will choose to become part of Goldsboro Partners Against Crime -- an initiative designed to engage the citizenry in not only catching criminals, but encouraging them to change their lives.

GPAC will work with police, members of the judicial system and the city administration to target violent offenders in the city and engage them in efforts to deter them from continuing in a life of crime.

Their methods will include individually targeted investigations, pressure from within their own neighborhoods and stiffer prison sentences -- all moves that law enforcement officers hope will compel offenders to either cut out their illicit activities, to take them elsewhere or to suffer the consequences.

The number of murders in the city this year, 12, exceeds those in any year so far this millennium. Of those 12, only three remain unsolved.

Assaults and armed robberies, sexual assaults and breaking and entering reports have escalated as well.

The whole plan is modeled after a program currently in place in High Point.

On Dec. 18, representatives from the city, including Chief Jeff Stewart and Sgt. Theresa Chiero, who serves as GPAC coordinator, will travel to the city to see an actual "call-in" -- an interaction with an offender.

The call-in is the actual event where a selected offender or group of offenders is invited to meet with community members, police and representatives of the city government and court systems, on neutral ground. There they are confronted with their prior convictions, updated on any open investigations in which they might be involved and potential consequences are outlined for them should they continue along their chosen path.

At that point, the community members and support organizations that offer reform strategies will step in and offer the offender or offenders an alternative path.

"It is very important, for the GPAC to work, for the voice of the program to be from within the neighborhood where the violence is occurring," said Kim Best, Goldsboro public relations officer.

The meeting Thursday, Ms. Best said, was very productive. The concerned parents and community members who attended were engaged and passionate and very inquisitive about how the program would work.

Those still undecided about whether they want to join the GPAC after having listened to the presentation and learning what would be expected of them are also invited to attend the Dec. 18 call-in in High Point.

There will be another city hall meeting, slated for January.

For more information, contact coordinator Sgt. Theresa Chiero at 919-580-4305. Anyone with information regarding a crime in their neighborhood, but who wishes to remain anonymous, can also contact Crime Stoppers at 919-735-2255.