Second town hall on gun violence documents strategies’ success

Local law enforcement credit saturation partols for there being no homicides during the month of July.

Second town hall on gun violence documents strategies’ success
August 18
09:29 2022

Earlier this summer Winston-Salem City Councilmember Barbara Hanes Burke held a town hall meeting to discuss the rise in gun violence. During that meeting held at Carl Russell Community Center, the goal was to come away with “real solutions” to gun violence. 

“When we leave here today, the goal is to have strategies that we can agree on and that we can implement going forward,” said Burke during the meeting held in late May. 

Last week Burke held a follow-up meeting to give an update on the initiatives and programs that were proposed during the first meeting. 

Representatives from the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD), Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO), Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) were all on hand to discuss programs they have put in place since the first meeting. 

Burke kicked off the conversation by discussing partnerships the city has forged with local nonprofit organizations. She also mentioned a partnership with retired Forsyth County Clerk of Court Susan Frye, who is now a consultant with the FCSO, designed to bring several programs to Piedmont Circle and Cleveland Avenue Homes. 

Dr. Pam Peoples Joyner, community relations specialist with the WSPD, discussed the youth T-ball league that was started with help from the Winston-Salem Police Foundation. William Royston, director of recreation and parks, talked about the department Rec and Roll initiative, which brings pop-up recreation to communities around the city. He also mentioned the Teens in Action program, which is offered at William C. Sims, Sedge Garden, and Minnie Lee Davis Harris recreation centers.

Superintendent Tricia McManus briefly discussed the district’s new discipline policy and other initiatives that will be implemented at the start of the new school year. 

Aside from programs and initiatives for young people, during the first meeting several residents also asked for an increased police presence in their neighborhoods. In response, the WSPD and FCSO joined forces to conduct saturation patrols.

Saturation patrol is a police or military patrol tactic wherein a large number of officers are concentrated into a small geographic area. Saturation patrols are used for hot-spot crime reduction, DUI checkpoints, and other location-specific patrols.

According to law enforcement, there were no homicides in the month of July and that was a direct result of the saturation patrols. Burke praised the WSPD and the FCSO for their hard work

“We heard from neighbor after neighbor after neighbor asking, pleading and begging for this,” Burke continued. “I want everybody to give the Winston-Salem Police Department and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office a round of applause. They are on the front line, they are closest to the crime … and we need to remember that any time anything negative is said about our law enforcement officers.”

Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said during the 78 days working with the WSPS on saturation patrol, they were able to seize 57 firearms including several ghost guns, and over $100,000 in illegal drugs. Kimbrough said if stakeholders in the community continue to come together, we can end the senseless violence. 

“I’m excited about what the future holds,” Kimbrough said. “I think if we continue to have these conversations, working collaboratively together, I think we can change the narrative.”

The meeting on strategies to end gun violence can be viewed in its entirety by visiting the City of Winston-Salem’s YouTube channel. A list of strategies discussed at the two meetings is available on the city’s website.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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