02/26/14 — GPAC takes another bite out of crime

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GPAC takes another bite out of crime

By John Joyce
Published in News on February 26, 2014 2:05 PM

The Goldsboro Partners Against Crime call-ins that began a year ago resumed Tuesday evening in the council chambers at old City Hall, this time with Mount Olive police Chief Brian Rhodes joining the panel.

Of 64 offenders notified since the program's inception, one is facing federal charges for heroin trafficking and another is in jail charged with murder.

The Police Department points to violent crime statistics, down in 2013 from the year prior, but says it is too early to say whether the program is a success.

Rhodes said Mount Olive is "all in" behind the program and his department is eager to see a reduction in crime for citizens in Wayne County.

"We're here to kind of piggy back on what Goldsboro is doing," he said.

His partnership with Goldsboro police Chief Jeff Stewart and GPAC coordinator Sgt. Teresa Chiero goes back over two decades.

"I've known Jeff Stewart 25 years and Teresa used to work for us down in Mount Olive," he said.

Other agencies represented at each call-in are the Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Wayne County Sheriff's Office; the local District Attorney's office; the U.S. Attorney's office; and the Department of Probation and Parole.

The call-ins are modeled after successful programs in High Point and other surrounding areas with the aim to reduce violent crime in the community. Known offenders are brought in by their probation officers and confronted with two messages -- change, or be locked up.

The group of offenders notified at each call-in never numbers more than 20. Tuesday night there were 11 -- 10 men and one woman.

Others have been notified following arrests and large drug sweeps conducted by police. Once notified, offenders are tracked and any interaction they have with law enforcement is from then on documented and shared between agencies.

The result is more aggressive prosecutions and harsher sentencing for those convicted after notification, officials said.