Charles Buchanan / The Free Press
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy expresses concern over the recent number of homicides in the city. Kinston Department of Public Safety Bill Johnson, left, announced the hiring of six additional police officers.
by Wesley Brown
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy spoke loudly and clearly.
He promised the people of his beloved city he and his staff will not rest until they stop the disgraceful acts of violence that are causing “our peaceful community great anguish.”
“These recent acts are shameful and nothing but pure evil,” Murphy said in a specially-called press conference at City Hall Monday afternoon.
Murphy addressed the media in the city council’s chambers to condemn the recent wave of violence that has taken the city by storm. Four homicides in the city limits this month have taken the lives of four people. The list includes Thomas Terrell Hinton, 31; U.S. Marshal Warren “Sneak” Lewis, 38; Elwood Hill, 63; and Tracy Grady, 28.
Grady, who died at the intersection of Eastover and Wilson avenues only a few hours before the press conference, pushed the 2011 Kinston homicide count to seven. That total matches the most in the city since 2006. The record for homicides in one year is 15 in 1989, according to Free Press archives.
“Kinston is a wonderful town with great history, beautiful places and a great outlook on job growth,” Murphy said. “We will not let a handful ruin the dreams of many.”
Murphy said he and the Kinston City Council fully supports the “proactive police work being conducted by public safety director Bill Johnson and his team of law enforcement officers.”
The mayor said the department and the city will continue to put more measures into place to ensure the protection of the city’s residents.
Murphy added the taxpayers and law-abiding citizens of the community deserve it. But, he said nipping the problem in the bud does not begin with government officials or police officers — it begins in the home, schools and churches.
While each crime differs, Johnson said the recent rash of homicides in the city result from many cultural factors, including, among many, gang prevalence, single-parent homes and high school dropout rates.
To counter the problem, Murphy urged parents to get their children involved in summer programs available in the city.
He also said the city will help with any neighborhood that wants to develop a community watch program. Woody Spencer, public information officer with the Kinston Department of Public Safety, will coordinate the effort, Murphy said. Spencer’s phone number is 252-939-3172.
“Our officers are here to protect and defend our community and they are most effective when we the citizens engage with them to provide a safer neighborhood,” Murphy said in his closing remarks.
Wesley Brown can be reached at 252-559-1075 or firstname.lastname@example.org.