Kinston leaders presented a plan to reduce gang violence and shootings in the city council hall on Monday.
Mayor B.J. Murphy introduced a plan he worked on with Kinston Police Chief Bill Johnson and Mayor Pro Tem, Joseph Tyson. The plans contains five parts, including hiring more officers to the gang unit, and a crime prevention hotline.
According to the mayor, prayer, as well as a social media campaign called “#IHeartKinston” are some strategies the city is taking to reduce gang violence.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 29 shooting cases in the city. There were 33 victims in those cases, three of the victims died. Of those 33 victims, 28 were affiliated with gangs in the city, according to Chief Johnson. This means the shootings were almost entirely gang related.
The leaders hope a crime prevention hotline will provide the police the tips they need to crack down on criminals. There will be a $500 reward for information leading to arrests.
“We all know that crime has a price to pay,” Mayor Murphy said. “And now snitching is not only acceptable, it’s profitable in Kinston.”
Also, on Tuesdays, the local paper will air a wanted poster of one of Kinston’s most wanted known criminals.
It was a packed house, community members and students from Kinston High School filled the room.
However, there wasn’t all agreement with the way leaders were tackling the violence problem.
“They hired four more officers and five kids get shot the following week,” said Larry Wayne. “How are four more officers going to help the situation?”
Wayne suggested the problem was already out of the city’s control and that state or federal aid was needed to reduce violence.
“I would just like to see more done in the interest and well being of the public,” said Guy Basden,
Basden suggested the problem was economic, and that crime wouldn’t improve until more job opportunities came to the city.
By Kyle Horan