Local News

Reducing street crime

07 fayetteville police car partialCan simply adding more police officers to the streets, or changing how they operate, reduce the crime rate? A report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, “What Caused the Crime Decline?” provides some answers. First, increasing the number of police officers can reduce crime by about 5 to 10%. Police employment increased dramatically in the 1990s, rising 28%. 

A major contributor was the 1994 crime bill, which provided funding for 100,000 new local officers. The city of Fayetteville added nearly 50 additional officers to the force during retired Chief Harold Medlock’s administration, bringing the number of sworn officers to 433. The increase resulted in a three-cent increase in the property tax rate.

Police techniques can also be effective in reducing crime. Interestingly, the biggest impact has come from something that gets a lot less ink than controversial measures, such as stop-and-frisk or the use of military equipment — the digital revolution. During the 1990s, police forces began using computers to target their efforts. The technique is known as CompStat. Part management tool, part geographical data-driven analysis, CompStat originally was little more than sticking pins in a map on the wall, looking for crime patterns. But it worked. Former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton implemented it full-scale in 1994. It then spread to many cities around the country, including Fayetteville.

Changes in law enforcement tactics are a key part of the larger puzzle, accelerating and reinforcing the other factors that combine to produce a decline in street crime. The hallmarks of CompStat are strong management and accountability techniques in a police department, as well as reliance on data collection to identify crime patterns at chosen locations. Resources are then deployed to break those patterns. 

Shift changes have also increased police visibility. In Fayetteville, the patrol shift schedule changed from three daily eight-hour shifts to two 12-hour shifts in January of this year. The net effect was a significant increase in human resources on the streets at a given time — from roughly 30 officers to 50. 

Police officers expressed concerns because their work schedules have a greater impact on their personal lives than any other non-life-threatening variable. According to the Brennan Center for Justice report, officers and their supervisors were initially concerned about the fatigue factor and its potential impact on safety, decision-making and productivity. 

To their advantage, though, police officers working 12-hour shifts found they spend more time with their families and have more time to perform routine tasks at home and away from work. Every other weekend off provides them more flexibility for recreation. A vast majority of spouses also reported overall satisfaction with the 12-hour schedule. 

In the Fayetteville Police Department, there have been no insurmountable problems reported in implementing the 12-hour schedule. Advantages far outweigh any disadvantages because fewer, longer shifts have a track record of improving the quality of life for officers and their families. Perhaps the most convincing argument for 12-hour shifts was that there is no record of officers wanting to switch back to their previous schedules.

Celebrating Fayetteville’s namesake

06 marquis de lafayetteNorth Carolina will celebrate the birthday of Revolutionary War hero Marquis de LaFayette Friday and Saturday, Sept. 6-7 in Fayetteville. 

Fayetteville was the first city in the nation named for the French nobleman when the State Assembly combined the towns of Cross Creek and Campbellton in 1783. It is the only namesake city Lafayette visited, even though there are many communities named for him. Festivities begin Friday evening with “Arias and Artifacts” in Davis Memorial Library at Methodist University. Tickets can be purchased at City Center Gallery & Books at 112 Hay St. or by calling 910-678-8899. The Lafayette Trail Tour takes place Saturday at 8:30 a.m., starting with coffee and croissants at the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, 210 Burgess St. Guests will see places that Lafayette visited when he was here in 1825. Reservations are required. Call 910-678-8899. Saturday, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex will celebrate Lafayette’s birthday and the American Revolution with the annual Festival of Yesteryear: Revolution on the Cape Fear, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., in Arsenal Park. 

Ice hockey gets a boost at the Crown Coliseum

Capital improvement projects underway at the Crown Coliseum will add years of life to the facility. The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners approved approximately $4.6 million to replace the coliseum ice system and ice floor and replace and paint two parking lots. These funds were available from local food and beverage tax proceeds that must be utilized by law for costs associated with Crown facilities. The ice floor, which covers the entire performance area of the coliseum, and the ice floor chiller were replaced earlier this month. Old concrete and piping were removed, and new piping was installed along with 410 cubic yards of concrete. The concrete will need 28 days to cure and will be ready for use in mid-September. The new ice system is expected to provide more than 20 years of efficient ice-making capabilities. 

“Investment in capital projects at the Crown Complex ... (indicates) Cumberland County is committed to providing first-class entertainment facilities for its citizens,” said Engineering and Infrastructure Director Jeffery Brown. 

Parking lot work to replace the Agri-Expo Center east parking lot and the Cooperative Extension parking lot is about 85% complete. Construction of the Crown Coliseum was completed in 1997. To see upcoming events at the Crown, go to crowncomplexnc.com. 

Animal shelter adoptions a success

The Cumberland County Animal Shelter found homes, Aug. 17, for 162 animals during the nationwide Clear the Shelters event. Officials waived adoption fees for the day, resulting in 99 cats, 61 dogs and two guinea pigs being adopted. Twenty-two animal control staff members and 30 volunteers assisted more than 550 people who visited the shelter to see the available animals. 

Dr. April Kelly, animal control staff veterinarian, met with families to answer questions and provide information abouts heartworms, fleas, ticks and other pet health topics. Friends of the Cumberland County Animal Shelter provided adopters with gift bags with pet-related items. People interested in pet adoptions can visit the animal shelter during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. Visit http://bit.ly/CCAdoptablePets  for more information on pet adoptions.

Operation Safe Travel

One of the goals of the North Carolina Highway Patrol is to reduce teenage driver crashes. To accomplish this objective, the State Patrol has requested the assistance of the Cumberland County Schools system to inform parents of high school students who drive to school to be aware of the following issues: speeding; seatbelt usage; limited provisional license violations; Level II driver restrictions, which means one teenage passenger; and distractions such as texting while driving and cellphone usage. Troopers are patrolling the main thoroughfares and roads that feed into county schools during the first two weeks of the school year. Parents are urged to make their teens aware that enforcement actions will be taken for substantial violations of motor vehicle laws.

Introducing the EMBLETC

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has named the sheriff’s training center in honor of former longtime Sheriff Moose Butler, who retired three years ago. Sheriff Ennis Wright asked the board to name the training center for Butler. Sheriff Wright provided a petition signed by 14 current and former elected officials supporting the endorsement. 

The building, located next to the Animal Control Center on Corporation Drive, is now the Earl “Moose” Butler Law Enforcement Training Center. 

Butler served as Cumberland County Sheriff for 22 years, from 1994 to 2016. The state-of-the-art training center was built during his tenure. It has an indoor firing range, munitions room, lecture rooms, a driver training pad and other features. It was built using money forfeited by drug dealers who were arrested and successfully prosecuted. 

Federal death penalty resumes

07 01 ronald gray 1988 court martialThe U.S. Department of Justice wants to clear the way for the federal government to resume capital punishment. Some experts view it as a potential sign of things to come. There are currently four military death row inmates held at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Two of the inmates were convicted of crimes in Cumberland County, North Carolina, in the 1980s: Ronald R. Gray and Timothy Hennis.

Gray, a former Army cook, was convicted in 1988 of four murders and several rapes in Fayetteville and at Fort Bragg. He appears to be the closest of the four to being put to death. Gray was initially given an execution date in 2008 after then-President George W. Bush approved it. But a stay was granted less than a week afterward. That stay of execution was lifted in 2016; he doesn’t face an immediate execution date. 

Hennis, a former master sergeant, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of a Fayetteville woman and two of her children in 1985. Kathryn Eastburn, 5-year-old Kara and 3-year-old Erin were found dead in May 1985 at their Summerhill Road home off Yadkin Road. A third child, then 22-month-old Jana, was found alive. Hennis was tried three times and was initially convicted in Cumberland County Superior Court and sentenced to death. He won an appeal and was found not guilty during a new trial in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1989. Hennis resumed his Army career and retired in 2004 as a master sergeant. The Army brought him out of retirement two years later when DNA evidence not available earlier linked him to the murders. He was court-martialed at Fort Bragg in 2010 and a military judge sentenced Hennis to death. 

“Attorney General [William] Barr’s announcement does not affect the individual status of any of the four death row inmates,” a Department of the Army official said. 

But the new Trump administration policy clears the legal path to resume using lethal injection for federal death row inmates. The eagerness of Trump’s DOJ to change the status quo could bode badly for Gray, Hennis and the07 02 Timothy Hennis 2 other two inmates held at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth. 

“If I were on death row, I would consider this a very bad sign, but not a sign that anything is happening immediately,” said Eugene Fidell, a Yale Law School lecturer on military justice. “There is going to be litigation over this.” 

The military hasn’t executed anyone since 1961, though capital punishment remains a legal penalty under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. In the 1970s, capital punishment was invalidated by the Supreme Court only to be reinstated later by the high court. In 1983, the Armed Forces Court of Appeals also ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. But it was reinstated by executive order by President Ronald Reagan the following year. 

Retired Lt. Col. Jeffrey Addicott, a former Army judge advocate, said he hopes the DOJ guidance signals a change. “Hopefully it is a harbinger of things to come,” he said. “Obviously the military appeal system is broken, and hopefully, the DOJ’s decision will energize a revamping of the military’s appeal process so that the victims can have justice.”

Pictured from top to bottom: Ronald Gray, Timothy Hennis

The Paul H. Thompson Library at FTCC helps students achieve success

14 BooksStudents who use the library do better. That's a bold statement, but one I believe the Paul H. Thompson Library on the Fayetteville campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College can back up. 

While going about our daily work as librarians, students often come by to let us know they got an “A” on their research paper and offer thanks for our help. Recently, a nursing student came by after graduating to express her thanks. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of library staff,” she said. 

Success stories like these let us know that we are having a positive impact on student success and making a difference within the Fayetteville community. 

The faculty engage with the library by arranging library orientations that familiarize students with library resources, how to access resources on and off campus and how to use those resources to complete assignments. Our faculty members tell us that students attending library orientations are showing marked improvement in the quality of student research and writing, class engagement and willingness to request additional help at the library. 

A report released by the State Library of North Carolina titled "Community College Libraries & Librarians and Student Success" provided a direct link between library use and students completing all first year courses successfully, learning basic skills needed to be employed, learning English and reading skills needed to succeed in college and preparing to transfer to a four-year college or university. 

The library’s ability to help students succeed relies primarily on its willingness to adapt to meet the needs of students on campus and distance learners. The Paul H. Thompson Library underwent a physical renovation, and library staff have received valuable feedback from students about how they enjoy using the new space. Students can move tables around for large groups, use the charging stations for their laptops and phones and connect them to interactive computers or spend some time alone in a welcoming and comfortable space to escape for a while by enjoying a good book. In the fall 2019 semester, the library will introduce a 3D printer to enhance student creativity and learning. 

Whether a student is across town or across the world, distance learners have access to library staff at the Paul H. Thompson Library to assist with reference questions during business hours, in person or by calling 910-678-8247 or emailing library@faytechcc.edu. When the library is closed, students can contact a librarian by using the online “Ask-a-Librarian ChatNow” button located on the library homepage at https://www.faytechcc.edu/campus-life/academic-support/library/. The library web page provides students with access to thousands of e-books, electronic journals and online tutorials that demonstrate how to use library resources. 

Three locations support FTCC students with library services and dedicated library staff: the Paul H. Thompson Library at the Fayetteville campus; the Spring Lake Campus Branch Library (910-497-3650); and the John L. Throckmorton Library at Fort Bragg (910-396-2665). We look forward to serving you and invite you to learn more about FTCC at www.faytechcc.edu. 

The Paul H. Thompson Library underwent a physical renovation, and library staff have received valuable feedback from students about how they enjoy using the new space.

Raeford Road to see center median construction

06 highway median 2A North Carolina Department of Transportation highway improvement program in Fayetteville will likely affect local traffic for years to come. Planning and development are underway on a project to replace the center turn lane along Raeford Road with a median. The undertaking will involve more than 6 miles of Raeford Road between Old Raeford Road in West Fayetteville and Robeson Street in the Highland Village area. The nearly $150 million project will result in a roadway resembling Ramsey Street, which was reconstructed several years ago. DOT will reconstruct the road into what’s known as a superstreet design by replacing the two-way center turn lane with a raised concrete median or landscaped area. The superstreet design will result in the elimination of numerous cross streets, which will require motorists to turn right and make U-turns at signalized intersections. 

DOT says the construction will be divided into three segments, beginning at the western end where Raeford Road intersects with Old Raeford Road. The section will include the area eastward to Bunce Road. The second segment of the plan will be from Bunce Road to the combined intersection of Glensford Drive and Hope Mills Road. The final segment will take the project through the in-town commercial district to Robeson Street. 

Each segment will be funded separately as construction contracts are awarded. DOT said the road’s reconstruction will improve traffic flow and pedestrian access. The N.C. Board of Transportation is scheduled to fund the first segment in February with construction to begin in the spring of 2020.

The state said Raeford Road is one of Fayetteville’s most congested and dangerous routes. According to the Raeford Road Corridor Study’s final report in 2010, about 78% of the crashes occurred between intersections, a statistic that highlighted DOT’s safety concern of the numerous cross street and driveway openings along the route. The Raeford Road corridor has a higher-than-average crash rate because motorists must cross several lanes of traffic to turn left. There will be 11 directional crossover intersections. Crossovers allow traffic on Raeford Road to turn left while preventing side-street traffic from going straight across or making a left turn at the same location. 

Other improvements to Raeford Road include adding a third travel lane westbound between Graham Road and Old Raeford Road and adding a third travel lane eastbound between Graham Road and Bunce Road. Sidewalks will be built on both sides of the road. As part of the project, the road’s T-intersection with Skibo Road, where traffic often backs up, will be redesigned. A new southbound exit ramp will be built from the All-American Freeway for motorists wanting to go west onto Raeford Road. The freeway’s existing southbound off-ramp will continue to be used to head east onto Raeford Road. 

For more information, this undertaking is listed as Project U-4405 in the N.C. DOT’s State Transportation Improvement Program.

Planning and development are underway on a project to replace the center turn lane along Raeford Road with a median. 

 

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