Filed under: Police

Ten tech tools that connect you to city gov

Engaging with City government should be easy as 1-2-3, so the City of Asheville is always looking for ways that tech can help keep up the connection, make life easier and create community opportunity.computer

Here are 10 ways you can use tech to connect with your city government:

Pay-by-phone parking – Launched as a pilot program in 2012 and expanded to all city metered spaces the next year, Pay-By-Phone parking continues to provide convenient and change-free parking options on the streets of Asheville. Thousands of people use the service each month, 7,000 in October alone! To try it out, just follow the instructions on the parking meter!

NextBus – When’s the next bus coming to your stop? That question has gotten easier to answer since the city’s Transit Division launched the NextBus service over the summer. From your phone, just text “nextART” and the number on your bus stop to “41411” or go to www.nextbus.com/art on your smart phone to find out just when the next bus will be there. You can also call (828) 253-5691 x5 and enter the number on your bus stop to hear when your bus will arrive. Signs are at all Ride the ART stops; look for the green and blue circle. Or use your home computer if you already know your stop number and avoid a long wait at the stop!

Asheville App – The Asheville App works on the idea that, when it comes to spotting areas of the city that need attention, more eyes are better than few. You spot it, we fix it. From potholes to overgrown lots to damaged street signs, the app allows residents to report problems, upload pictures and track our progress on fixing the issue. Users can access the Asheville App from their computer or smartphone, and anyone can see what is being reported and how city personnel respond.

Online Development Portal – Time equals money, especially in the world of development, and this online tool is a real time saver. Pull construction related permits, make payments and track permit progress all online. For many basic permit types, no more in-person visits are needed. You can use the portal to schedule inspections 24 hours a day, receive confirmation of scheduling and see inspections results.

Online City Council meetings, both live and on-demand (psst…you can also search Council minutes here)

Graffiti Dashboard – When the City of Asheville began its 123 Graffiti Free removal assistance program, we knew it would be important for the public to track our progress. The dashboard shows the number of requests for cleanup assistance, how many have been completed, and how much of the money allocated by City Council has been spent. The dashboard’s design and ease of use earned it a place among the finalists for the North Carolina Technology Association’s 2014 Tech Awards.

Crime Mapper – Safety and quality of life means knowing what is going on in your neighborhood. The Crime Mapper on mapAsheville is updated with current calls for service from both the Asheville Police Department and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and can zoom in on specific areas or sort crime info by neighborhood.

TreeMapper – Crowd-sourced tree info! Customized by the city’s Information Technology Services and the Tree Commission from open source software, the online map is designed to increase knowledge of trees in the area, highlight their benefits to the community and enhance the way we think about trees.

Online picnic shelter reservations and recreation program registration. – You don’t have to jump through hoops to sign up for one of Asheville Parks and Recreation’s many programs, or to reserve a picnic shelter for that birthday party or family reunion. Just sign up online!

Email utility bills and automatic bill payment – Green and easy! You don’t need to get a paper utility bill. By signing up, you can receive your bill by email and even choose to have an automatic draft when the bills come out.

Leave a Comment November 18, 2014

Honoring Officer Bingaman one year later

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On October 29, Asheville Police officers, friends and family gathered outside the Buncombe County Courthouse for a candlelight memorial in honor of Officer Robert A. Bingaman who died one year earlier.

The service was held in the building’s courtyard, home to a stone memorializing emergency and police personnel who have died in the line of duty. APD Chief William Anderson and District Attorney Ron Moore both spoke to the gathering of approximately 100.

Bingaman died in 2013 when the car he was driving left the Capt. Jeff Bowen Bridge over the French Broad River. Bingaman, who served in the traffic division, was also a former Marine and a well-respected officer in the Asheville Police Department.

Leave a Comment October 30, 2014

Asheville Police Department promotes three to Sergeant

On Thursday, Sept. 11, the Asheville Police Department promoted three of its own to the rank of Sergeant. Officers Brien Griffin, Ann Fowler and Tammy Bryson were sworn in during a ceremony in the Asheville City Council Chambers, with Mayor Esther Manheimer administering their oaths.

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From left: Sgt. Brien Griffin, Sgt. Ann Fowler, Sgt. Tammy Bryson, Chief William Anderson.

“These are three truly dedicated individuals,” said APD Chief William Anderson. “Each has done something in their career that rises to this level, and all three of them know how proud I am of their performance.” Between them, the three newly-decorated sergeants represent 38 collective years with the department.

Leave a Comment September 17, 2014

A send off for APD Capt. Tim Splain

Friends, colleagues and representatives from law enforcement agencies and community groups gathered on Friday August 29 to recognize Captain Tim Splain on the day of his retirement from the Asheville Police Department.

“I am very thankful for Tim’s service to the City and to the community,” said Deputy Chief Wade Wood. “It’s been a great career. Tim’s worked with a lot of agencies and done so in an outstanding manner.”

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Capt. Chris Reece-Young (left) presents Capt. Tim Splain with his badge.

Over the years, Splain has been involved in community initiatives such as Weed and Seed and Changing Together, and has worked side by side with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville, the FBI and the DEA, all of whom had representatives who spoke positively of Splain’s impact locally.

Splain joined the APD in 1991 after working at the Pentagon in Naval Intelligence Command. At that time, he remembers, Asheville’s downtown was still in the early stages of revitalization, and APD patols worked closely with residents and business owners to make the area safer.

“It was enjoyable as a Patrol Sergeant to be part of how that developed. You got to see the influence of your work.” Splain says. “That’s the most sustaining part of this job, to have people thank you for things you did years before.”

Leave a Comment September 2, 2014

APD Chief Anderson speaks to community concerns arising from events in Ferguson, MO

Events in Ferguson, Missouri, have sparked a national conversation about police procedures, equipment and response to citizens demonstrating in the face of tragedy.
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Given these concerns, it is understandable that many may be wondering about the Asheville Police Department’s responsive procedures. Asheville is a city of many opinions, and we at APD are proud of our track record of responding to demonstrations and those who exercise their right of free speech. We take constitutional rights and public safety seriously and approach our response to demonstrations and other events with professionalism and respect. I share this because I want everyone to know that we have a police department worthy of your confidence.

By examining and putting into practice policies that address our officers’ procedures during such events, the Asheville community has over the past decade been an open and safe place for free speech and expression for demonstrators and onlookers alike. Each of our officers is trained in crowd management strategies that allow for the free expression of ideas and protect the safety of the public. These strategies have been evident during the course of several high-profile events, including Moral Monday rallies, open-carry demonstrations and the Occupy Asheville event.

Most recently, concern across the nation has turned to the use of military-style equipment in police departments. Our use of specialized tactical equipment is reserved for operations that require the deployment of highly-trained and likewise specialized Emergency Response Team (ERT) members, as in the two-day standoff on Max Street in January of this year. I emphasize the word “specialized” because these officers only deploy this kind of equipment when there is a direct and real threat to the safety of the public. Deployment of our ERT requires the approval of our supervisors. In the Max Street case, the use of an armored vehicle kept our officers safe as they negotiated the delicate situation at hand and their efforts achieved a successful outcome with no injuries.

APD officers consider ourselves part of the larger community we serve and protect by actively seeking out connections, making sure that we are visible and well known in both the neighborhoods and business districts of Asheville. This outreach means that citizens and officers talk, get to know one another, and assist each other in keeping our city safe.

I believe the concerns of the public are the concerns of the APD, and these conversations are important for us to have in order to grow and remain strong as a community. Just recently, both Sheriff Duncan and I participated in a Use of Force forum, hosted by the Asheville Buncombe Community Relations Council. It is my hope that while we have these conversations, we will look to each other for support.

Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the recent events.

- Asheville Police Chief William Anderson

3 Comments August 18, 2014

A good night to get to know your neighbors: National Night Out Crime Prevention Kick-Off Rally Aug. 5

The Asheville Police and Fire Departments and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, with the sponsorship support of Target, Inc., will host a local National Night Out (NNO) kick-off event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5.

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NNO is a nationwide, annual crime prevention and community policing event. NNO events are designed to strengthen neighborhood spirit and community-law enforcement collaboration by promoting crime prevention.

The local kick off will be held at Carrier Park on Amboy Road in West Asheville.

Neighborhoods are invited to participate in the family oriented kick off celebration, which will feature food, a raffle of prizes provided by Target including 20 inch bikes (two for girls and two for boys), backyard games with law enforcement officers and public safety vehicles. KISS FM/99.9 and LEAF and the Easel Rider Mobile Art Lab will be at the event to provide entertainment for kids and adults. Public safety officers will be available to offer tips and facts about crime prevention.

After the kick off, neighbors are encouraged to return home to hold community oriented events in their neighborhood. Local law enforcement officers are available year-round to help neighborhoods develop strategies to build community and neighborhood solidarity against crime.

This year’s sponsorship is part of the ongoing support that Target, Inc. provides to local law enforcement agencies and community groups throughout the country.

Click below for video about National Night Out.

For more information about local National Night Out activities and ongoing crime prevention strategies, contact Natalie Bailey, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, at Natalie.Bailey@buncombecounty.org or 250-4469 or Keith McCulloch, City of Asheville Crime Prevention Officer at kmcculloch@ashevillenc.gov or 259-5834.

In the event of bad weather, please check the Recreation Weather Hotline to see if the event will take place as scheduled. The Weather Hotline number is 251-4082.

For more information about the national initiative, visit http://www.nationalnightout.org/nno/.

Leave a Comment July 31, 2014

Sign up now for the fall Citizens Police Academy

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The Asheville Police Department is now inviting residents to apply for the fall semester of its Citizens Police Academy.

This free program gives participants insight into the philosophy and policies that govern the APD’s service to the community. The class is designed to give residents an appreciation for the problems and challenges facing law enforcement, as well as an up-close opportunity to offer insights, ideas, and solutions.

Classes begin on September 4th at 5:30 p.m. at the police department.

The academy lasts for 12 consecutive weeks, with three-hour classes held on Thursdays. The final day of the class is a graduation ceremony.

The course consists of basic classroom instruction, presentations, and demonstrations on topics such as criminal investigations, constitutional and criminal law, use of force, departmental structure, and defensive tactics.

Participants will also be able to ride with police officers on patrol.

Those wishing to participate must apply and be accepted. For more information on the academy, contact Officer Keith McCulloch at 259-5834 or e-mail him at kmcculloch@ashevillenc.gov.

Leave a Comment July 10, 2014

APD Strategic Operations Plan available online

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The Asheville Police Department’s development of a strategic operations plan for 2014-2017 reaches a new milestone as the department prepares to introduce its three-year plan to the community. The Strategic Operations Plan is a proactive tool intended to deliver guidance and structure for the department to continually improve its service to the citizens of Asheville.

Now, you can see the APD Strategic Operations Plan, background on the development process and upcoming steps in its implementation at ashevillenc.gov/projects.

The SOP development process began in 2013, with the recognition of the need for a roadmap for the department as it heads into the future. Since then, an ongoing input process that includes members of the public, stakeholders, the Citizens Police Advisory Committee, and police department employees, has provided the framework for a successful blueprint.

“Our plan not only serves as the foundation for how we will provide police services in the future, but also serves as the department’s vehicle for establishing a shared vision as a unified department,” said APD Chief William Anderson.

Anderson will present the Strategic Operations Plan to the public at a series of meetings, beginning with a July 17 meeting at the Public Works facility at 161 S. Charlotte St. The community is encouraged to attend to learn how public input was integrated into the plan and participate in the next steps for strengthening the partnership between the department and the community. The meeting will take place from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

“We knew from the beginning that the public’s involvement would be crucial to creating a successful plan,” Anderson said. “We are looking forward to presenting this plan and continuing the dialog with the community.”

Leave a Comment July 7, 2014

Asheville Police Department promotes Evan Coward to Sergeant

In a ceremony at Asheville City Hall Thursday, Asheville Police Chief Willam Anderson announced the promotion of officer Evan Coward to the rank of Sergeant.

TryTHis one1Coward is an eight-year veteran on the APD and has served as a Community Resource Officer for the South/Central district since 2007. His work as a CRO and his contributions to the improvement of neighborhoods there earned him much support in the communities he serves.

“He’s been one of the finest, dedicated individuals I’ve worked with in some time,” Andserson said.

Alongside Coward’s friends and family, Thursday’s ceremony was attended by members of the community, fellow APD officers, city staff and elected officials.

1 Comment June 20, 2014

It’s Official: APD puts longstanding outreach approach to homelessness into policy

An approach developed four years ago by the Ashville Police Department to interacting with people experiencing homelessness has proved so successful it is now official departmental policy.

The APD’s homelessness strategy prioritizes connecting people with available services and housing assistance over making arrests, and giving people using illegal camps seven days to vacate. The success of the procedure is cited as a major factor in reducing chronic homelessness in Asheville, and in April, the APD added the approach to its policy manual and began department-wide training in such interactions.

In 2005, Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Commission adopted a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, and Council supported the establishment of the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative and the “Housing First” model. That approach calls for providing housing to people experiencing homelessness with no strings attached – a model that gained big successes on a national level.

In 2010, the APD applied that philosophy when responding to calls about homeless camps, introducing people there to service providers and handing out information outlining where to find housing assistance.

“We adopted a protocol that gives people seven days to vacate a camp, while at the same time connecting them to services,” says Sgt. Jackie Stepp. The department also partnered with outreach groups like Homeward Bound and the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville. “The idea is to connect them with services and divert them away from the justice system, and not go into a situation anticipating making an arrest.”

Heather Dillashaw, Director of the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative, says the APD’s participation and outreach is a major factor in reducing chronic homelessness in Asheville from 293 identified in 2005 to 47 by the beginning of 2013, an 84% drop.

“It has absolutely made a huge difference,” Dillashaw says. “We certainly would not have made this kind of headway without the APD’s work early on. Their experience provided us with information on who among the homeless community were drawing on our public safety resources, so we knew where to focus our efforts.”

In tandem with the policy’s adoption, officers have also been undergoing Crisis Intervention Training, an approach to interacting one-on-one in crisis situations. CIT was developed in order to find constructive ways to approach and assist people in mental or emotional crisis. Like the homelessness policy, it seeks to establish relationships and find solutions rather than put people in jail. And despite its primary role, the training has proven a valuable tool when approaching people experiencing homelessness or in other interactions with the public. “People in these situations don’t necessarily have a mental issue,” Stepp said. “But there is often tension when you go into a camp and this helps us establish that we are there to help, and are not there as adversaries.”

Information about resources available to people experiencing homelessness can be found by calling 828-259-5851 or online here.

Leave a Comment May 9, 2014

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