KFP Our Opinion: This is our city — let’s take it back

A group of people met Monday morning in an attempt to take back our city from the bad guys. Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy led an impassioned press conference at City Hall so well-attended that chairs needed to be brought into council chambers to seat residents, citizens and a good-looking group of high school students. Those folks were on hand to hear the young mayor, the city’s veteran director of public safety and a well-seasoned city councilman discuss plans to curb crime in Kinston.

After a three-year interlude in which crime actually abated a bit in Kinston, our city has been swamped lately with a variety of crimes that has sullied her name throughout Eastern North Carolina.

The message from the city officials was simple, but powerful: We’re not taking this any longer.

Murphy asked those assembled to begin the daily battle against crime with prayer before presenting his five-point plan to fight crime to the crowd. Kinston Department of Public Safety Director Bill Johnson asked the public — which has been very hesitant to help our city’s police, for one reason or another — to come forward to help slow crime. And city councilman Joe Tyson didn’t mince words in his presentation. “I am begging for your help,” Tyson said, making eye contact with as many people as he could while drawing out the sentence. “This has to be a community effort.” Tyson summed up what was the beauty and simplicity of Monday’s press conference: government is not being increased to make our city safer; frankly, we’ve all been taxed to death and it’s time for those agencies to step up and do their jobs more effectively.

Tyson’s (and Murphy’s, before him) appeal to the public is for us, the public, to step up and take responsibility for our city, not to depend on municipal government to do the job.

That’s why it’s important that if you know who shot someone, or broke into a home or assaulted a victim, speak up! Our police department works very hard but even the best police department in the world can’t be successful if those who can help, won’t.

Murphy is to be commended for his actions and attempted solutions; this isn’t some election year stumping where he’s trying to win your vote. Murphy hasn’t even finished the first year of his second term — he is trying to clean up the streets of his hometown. The same can be said for Johnson, who is in the final months of his career before he retires and for Tyson, who so passionately loves Kinston he nearly broke into tears Monday begging for the public’s help.

There were many positives from Monday’s presser, including a large group of Kinston High School students on hand to support the mayor’s initiatives and a packed chambers full of people ready to help.

But let’s not let this eagerness to take our city back end with hashtags and good intentions. We the people of Kinston can stop the criminals in our city.

Now, let’s get out there and do it.