WNCT 9: Kinston leaders unveil new plan to tackle crime

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KINSTON, N.C. -The City of Kinston unveils a new five-point plan to address crime in the community.

Department of Public Safety Director, Bill Johnson, says in 2014 his officers have responded to 29 shooting calls. Johnson says since expanding the gang unit, officers have made seven arrests and taken 6 guns off the street.

On Monday, Johnson joined other city leaders including Mayor B.J. Murphy to announce a multi-layered plan to reduce crime in Kinston.

Murphy says part one of the plan calls on religious leaders to not only pray over the city, but assist in creating a positive culture in the church and the community.

“Spreading this message of love and hope will create a culture of positive energy throughout our community,” said Murphy.

Other parts of the plan include applying for a federal “Choice Neighborhood” grant and calling on businesses to help with the city’s growth.

Councilman Joseph Tyson also asked for the public’s help in recreating the Crimestoppers program. Tyson says the city is looking for people to help on the program’s board.

Murphy says another key part of the crime reduction plan is the “Ask Me Why I Heart Kinston” campaign. Dozens of Kinston High School students will utilize social media to find, share, and encourage positive things they see in the community.

“I’m concerned that some of my peers are not focusing on what’s important.   All of us have times that we get off track and I think with the mayor working so hard, I think they are going to get back on track,” said KHS senior and #IHeartKinston participant, Emleigh Hughes.

KHS senior and #IHeartKinston participant, Kianna Sanders, says since her freshman year she has had to attend too many funerals. Sanders says it time for her peers to help each other stay out of trouble.

“I definitely think it’s important for the youth to take back their community and set an example for upcoming generations,” said Sanders.

The final part of the plan to reduce crime involves re-launch the city’s “To Catch a Criminal” program. Every week KDPS will release information on a criminal they are trying to get off the street. If a person provides police with information that leads to an arrest, they will receive $500 in cash. City leaders say tipsters can remain anonymous if they are afraid to come forward.

Posted: Oct 13, 2014 11:34 AM EDT
Updated: Oct 13, 2014 8:00 PM EDT

By WNCT STAFF