07/17/13 — Second GPAC call-in held

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Second GPAC call-in held

By John Joyce
Published in News on July 17, 2013 1:46 PM

Goldsboro Partners Against Crime held its second call-in Tuesday in the City Council chambers at the old city hall.

The second call-in was much like the first held in March, but with a new group of offenders brought in to hear the city's message -- it will tolerate no more violent crime.

The GPAC coordinator, Goldsboro police Sgt. Teresa Chiero, said 13 of the 14 offenders notified showed up. The absent offender had a work conflict, she said.

Three of the offenders were women and at least one of the men was white -- a change from the all-black, all-male group notified at the first call-in in March.

After Chiero welcomed the attendees, community members Linda Sue White and Allison Pridgen of the Goldsboro Public Housing Authority and Wayne County Public Schools, respectively, addressed the offenders.

Their message was stern but the assistance they offered the offenders is real, they said.

Teresa Cox and Craig Doubt both spoke, as they did at the first call-in. Both have lost sons to street violence.

The second half of the call-in was dedicated to the law enforcement side of the issue.

After a brief address from Goldsboro Police Chief Jeff Stewart and comments from sheriff's office Maj. Tom Effler, who spoke in Sheriff Carey Winders' stead, the offenders were met by representatives of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Federal agents are operating in Wayne County, they told the group, and if you commit a drug or a gun crime you will be investigated and you will be arrested and charged under federal statutes.

Federal gun and drug cases carry stiffer sentences than state charges, they reminded those present. A gun used in a drug crime carries a mandatory minimum of five years. Any escalation of violence and the years go up -- 10, 15, maybe 20 years, the agents said.

Chiero said she plans to hold a GPAC call-in every four months. Each time a different group of offenders will be brought in and notified that they have to make a choice.

Offenders can either accept the help that is offered them and change or they will eventually go to jail, she said.

Francine Smith, program director at Rebuilding Broken Places, concluded the meeting by offering her services in helping the offenders with education and employment needs.

She closed with possibly the most important message of all, something the offenders likely did not expect but might certainly have needed to hear.

"I love you," she said.