Road Deaths Down

The holiday season is not only one of the busiest travel times, but this year’s low gas prices mean many people are probably choosing to drive to holiday destinations. More cars on the road means a higher chance of fatal crashes, according to a University of Alabama study. So it’s important that drivers stay alert, and learn to spot and avoid hazards and to drive carefully. Fayetteville Police hope they can close out the year with no further fatal auto accidents. In the first 11 months of this year there were 16 highway fatalities, according to police records. Three of the victims were pedestrians. Both numbers are fewer than had been recorded during the corresponding period of 2014. Police Chief Harold Medlock made a reduction in traffic deaths a goal of his this year. Traffic enforcement officers have placed special emphasis on the Cross Creek Mall retail hub this holiday season. 

Resource Officers in Public Schools 

When a video of a South Carolina school resource officer forcefully removing a student from her desk went viral, a debate on the presence of law enforcement officers in schools lit up social media. The officer was fired. Many years ago, then-Fayetteville Police Chief Ron Hansen agreed to turn security at county schools over to the sheriff’s office. Up & Coming Weekly asked Cumberland County Sheriff Moose Butler’s spokesman about the changing role of school resource officers, but he declined to comment. Sgt. Sean Swain did tell us that the sheriff’s office provides 45 deputies for local high schools and middle schools. The National Association of School Resource Officers says “The goal of SRO programs is to provide safe learning environments in our nation’s schools, provide valuable resources to school staff, foster a positive relationship with our nation’s youth,and develop strategies to resolve problems affecting our youth with the goal of protecting every child so they can reach their fullest potential.” 

According to Education World, SROs not only help students feel safe but also give them someone in whom to confide, which was among the initial hallmarks of placing officers in schools. 

Child Death Baffling

The parents of a young child who died at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center early this month  have been jailed, but an investigation into the baby’s death is ongoing. It’s the second child the parents have lost in less than two years. Police say the three-year-old girl was found unresponsive on Dec. 1 at 520 Regency Drive in Fayetteville “due to injuries she suffered at the hands of her father, Jamarkus Smith,” said Police Lt. David McLaurin. The 26-year-old Smith and his wife Octavia Bennett-Smith, 27, face multiple charges. Despite the evidence McLaurin cites, neither of them has been charged with the death itself. The father faces two counts of first-degree statutory sex offense and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. Smith’s bond is $3 million. Bennett-Smith is charged with felony child abuse and she’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail. Youth Services Detectives are also reviewing a child death investigation from February 2014, at the same address. It too involved the Smiths, according to police. That death was initially ruled a case of sudden infant death syndrome. 


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