The City of Asheville Police Department celebrated the graduation its largest Citizens Police Academy class to date on Nov. 23. Forty-three people took part in the 13-week program, including seven high school students participating for their senior projects, making this the biggest class since the academy began in 1991.
“Any time we can involve the participation of this many citizens in this kind of a program, it’s a benefit to all of us,” APD Chief William Anderson said to the class. “Hopefully you walked away with a better idea of what we do. That educational experience has a benefit across the board for us as a community.”
The Citizens Academy is a 13-week program in which participants can experience up close and behind-the-scenes how law enforcement works. Attendees learn about forensics, the K9 unit, the bomb squad, investigative techniques and get to participate in ride-alongs as officers go on patrol. Class participants complete a total of 41 hours, forging relationships with the officers who serve the Asheville community.
Academy participant Octavia Caldwell said the course had a big impact on her. “This has been a wonderful experience. Every police officer I see, I have compassion for them.”
“Everyone comes out of it with a greater understanding of how law enforcement works,” said Crime Prevention Officer Allen Dunlap, who coordinates the academy. “This is a great way for people to learn more about us and for us to make more connections in the community. We want to reach out to the community. We want to build bridges.”
The Asheville Police Department offers a Citizens Police Academy twice a year, as well as a Junior Citizens Police Academy in the summer. Participants must apply and be accepted in order to participate. For more information about these programs, contact Officer Dunlap at 259-5834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information from the community remains one of the most important tools officers use when cracking cases. Community policing, in the form of observations and tips, often offers the best set of eyes and ears a department has. That’s why the Asheville Police Department has many ways to make it easy and confidential to relay information to them.
Text-a-Tip is the latest in a selection of opportunities for the community to report criminal activity and interact with the Asheville Police Department. The software, which enables tips through smart phones, already rivals the APD’s other tip lines in terms of volume. Since Text-a-Tip launched in July, the department has received 58 tips over the system, says APD Sgt. Michael Lamb, and the information has resulted in several arrests and drug seizures.
“It’s a way to give us information in almost real time and at the same time remain completely anonymous.” Lamb says. “We need the eyes and ears out in the community. They know about things before we ever could.”
The system allows people to text information to the APD through a third party provider, meaning the source of the tip remains anonymous. By texting and responding, the tipster and the officer can communicate back and forth.
“This is technology that is comfortable and easy to use, especially for young people who are used to texting,” Lamb says.
To use Tex-a-Tip, text “APDTIP” plus your message to 274637 (CRIMES) on your cell phone or mobile device (Note: standard rates may apply). A third party routes the message to an APD Criminal Investigations Supervisor who assigns it to the on-duty patrol commander. “We’re all set up for it,” Lamb says. “It goes straight to our smart phones.”
Officers never see the phone number or identity of the person relaying information, and the tipster can end the conversation by texting “STOP.”
Text-a-Tip is especially helpful when used alongside the mapping technology found at crimereports.com that lets a viewer track calls for service around town and in their neighborhood. They can click on an icon and a window displays the type of crime under investigation. If the person has any information, he or she can report specifically about the incident through Text-a-Tip or on a personal computer through the WebTips link.
Click here to find out more about Text-a-Tip and other community policing resources.
Click here to see important messages from the Asheville Police Department.
Anyone with information about a crime can contact the Asheville Police Department at (828) 252-1110 or Asheville-Buncombe Crime Stoppers at (828) 255-5050.
A big thanks to all of the City of Asheville employees who came out and donated at the Asheville Fire Department and Asheville Police Department Blood Drive on October 24. The drive, held in the City of Asheville Municipal Building that houses both the APD and AFD, saw donors from multiple departments contributing where it counts.
“In our business, we see first hand that blood is always a precious commodity when it comes to saving lives,” said AFD Chief Scott Burnette. “We’re glad to host an event that helps that cause.”
To find local blood donor opportunities or get information about how your organization can host a blood drive, go to www.redcrossblood.org.
“Donating blood is an opportunity for people to give the most important gift of all, the ‘Gift of Life,’” said Stacy Taylor, Donor Resources, American Red Cross, Carolinas Blood Services Region. “The Red Cross depends on the generosity of volunteer donors to meet the needs of patients in our area and across the country.”
Congratulations to the Asheville Police Department’s John Rikard, who was promoted from Detective to Sergeant in an Oct. 12 ceremony at Asheville City Hall. Sgt. Rikard has been with APD for nine years and has served in the roles of Patrol Officer, Community Resource Officer, and General Assignment and Major Case Detective.
The ceremony was held in Asheville City Council Chambers and was overseen by Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, who administered the oath, and by APD Chief William Anderson.
“It’s wonderful that we can all come together and celebrate this achievement,” Anderson said to a gathering of Sgt. Rikard’s family, friends and colleagues.
The Asheville Police Department reminds drivers to be careful and observant as City of Asheville and Buncombe County students prepare to return to school.
Please remember that traffic will be congested near city schools and plan your route accordingly. Remember to look for kids at bus stops and be aware of when you need to stop for a school bus.
When a school bus has stopped to pick up or drop off students, traffic in both directions must stop on two lane roads, two lane roads with a center turning lane and on four lane roadways without a center turn lane or median divider (for example Merrimon Ave. or Charlotte St.)
On four lane roads with a center divider or median separation of a center turn lane, only traffic following the school bus needs to stop. Be aware that school zone speed limits will be enforced by Officers using radar.
The Asheville Police Department 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. 7.
NNO is a nationwide, annual crime prevention and community policing event.
The local kick off will be at the Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center at 285 Livingston Street, Asheville, NC.
Neighborhoods are encouraged to participate in the family oriented kick off celebration, which will feature food, backyard games with law enforcement officers, public safety vehicles and a canine demonstration. Police officers will also be available to offer tips and facts about crime prevention. NNO events are designed to strengthen neighborhood spirit and community-police collaboration by promoting crime prevention. After the kick off, neighbors are also encouraged to host picnics, block parties or simple meet and greets to increase community building and solidarity against crime.
More than 35 million people across the nation are anticipated to take part in NNO events. 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.
In this video, APD Chief William Anderson invites the community to join in for National Night Out:
For more information about local National Night Out activities, contact Officer Allen Dunlap, APD Crime Prevention Unit, at (828) 552-1517 or email@example.com.
For more information about the national initiative, click here.
On July 19, cadets who recently completed the Asheville Police Department’s police academy earned their badges and the city’s department grew by 20. Gathered at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and accompanied by family, friends, City of Asheville employees and City Council members, the cadets were sworn in by Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy.
“You have finished a milestone in your careers. Congratulations. Celebrate that fact. Own it,” the Mayor said.
Bellamy also called upon the new officers to uphold the department’s guiding principles of integrity, fairness, respect and professionalism.
“Remember that one person can make a big impact on a department,” Bellamy said.
Each of the 20 cadets completed a rigorous program that included 35 blocks of instruction and 624 hours of training, physical tests, and a series of exams to stay in the program through graduation.
“You have gone through some really difficult times in order to wear this badge and represent this department,” said APD Chief William Anderson.
Class speaker Jose Maldonado reminisced about the bonds created with his fellow officers while in the academy, and said that those bonds would grow even stronger as they served on the APD force.
“I learned a lot from being with you guys,” Maldonado said. “Go out and do great things.”
Once sworn in, the new officers each had their badges pinned on by family members and supporters. The officers will be assigned to a Field Training Officer in the department before being allowed to patrol on their own.
The 2012 Asheville PD Cadets are: Wilson Bunn, Orlando Burge, Adam Cabe, David Cohen, Chris Dennis, Ian Grant, Denise Jackson, Krystale Jones, Josh Kingry, Dmitri Kirnos, Traci Kruthaupt, Oksana Kulakova, Derek Laffin, Ian Luther, Jose Maldonado, Christopher Morrow, Mario Rodriguez, Brandon Shope, Brett Thomas and Ty Wilson.
The Asheville Police Department Police Academy is a collaboration between APD and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
On July 9, friends, family and colleagues gathered to mark the retirement of Sgt. Danny Holden and celebrate his 20 years with the Asheville Police Department.
Holden has a law enforcement career under his belt that totals nearly 30 years, having come to the APD from the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Department in 1992. In 1999, he began his role as a drug interdiction officer and is especially noted for his work combating drug activity in several roles. He served on multiple drug task forces including the Drug Suppression Unit, Criminal Investigations Drug Unit and the Buncombe County Anti-Crime Task Force and collaborated with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Holden’s skill at drug enforcement made a big impression on the officers around him.
“Our drug unit would not be what it is if not for Danny,” said Capt. Tim Splain. “On the road, the DSU, the BCAT, officers want to be the type of drug agent he is. We are indebted to Danny and his skills.”
The APD and the City of Asheville thank Sgt. Holden for his dedicated service and wish him a happy retirement.
Camping on public property is illegal and a problem from the aspects of both health and public safety. Camping on private property without consent of the property owner is also illegal. When complaints are received from the community, APD gives campers a seven-day notice to pack up their camps. The notification includes contact information to help people get in touch with available service providers.
“We don’t want to go in there and just kick someone out. The overall goal shifts from plain enforcement to letting them know what the available resources are,” said APD Officer Jackie Stepp. “And that we want to see them get off the streets. I think most people appreciate that approach.”
In the video, APD officers, ABCCM Veterans Restoration Quarters, AHOPE and City of Asheville representatives visit illegal camps to find common solutions that work for groups that are often perceived as being at opposing ends of the homelessness issue.
Click here to see more videos on the City of Asheville’s YouTube channel.
Eight years after the inception of the West Riverside Operation Weed and Seed initiative, neighborhoods in and around the area are transitioning to a new chapter. With the U.S. Department of Justice-funded program drawing to a close at the end of June, the focus will be on building on the momentum and relationships created during the operation and moving from a site specific strategy to a regional one by joining forces with initiatives like the Changing Together crime prevention collaboration.
The Weed and Seed initiative addressed areas of elevated crime by creating and nurturing community driven programs, providing prevention and intervention options, restoring neighborhoods and dedicating supplemental law enforcement in high crime areas. The momentum came out of the communities themselves and was steered by a committee of residents from the neighborhoods most impacted. The result, says Mayor Terry Bellamy, is a healthier and safer neighborhood.
“You were committed to being part of the change that would grow your community in a positive way,” Bellamy said at a recent barbeque and party at Pisgah View Apartments. The party was held in honor of the neighborhood and the Weed and Seed partners, and was attended by Pisgah View neighbors, service providers, Asheville Police officers and others who have given their time and enthusiasm to make Weed and Seed happen.
“It’s impossible to overstate the amount of involvement, energy and ideas represented here,” said the City of Asheville’s Weed and Seed coordinator Rebecca Byrne. “The level of participation by non-profits and other organizations has been amazing. With those systems and programs in place, the community can keep moving forward.”
“This doesn’t happen easily,” said Fred Hudson, the Western District U.S. Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Coordinator. “It requires collaboration. We’ve had some incredible success in this community.”
Since Weed and Seed began, the West Riverside Weed and Seed area has seen job training for 75 residents, baby sitting programs for teens looking for positive ways to earn money, the formation of a Girl Scout troop and the development of mentoring programs. The Burton Street Community Center got much needed improvements and an entire building of apartments was renovated in Pisgah View Apartments to create a stimulating and safe environment for afterschool programs and resident support services. The DOJ grants provided $148,000 to local non-profits meeting community defined goals.
“But the biggest thing I am proud of is that the community came together to reduce crime,” Bellamy said.
Focused law enforcement and community policing was crucial in the effort to get criminals off the street. Since 2008, some 109 individuals have been charged as habitual felons and several investigative operations have targeted large-scale drug dealing in the community. Asheville Police Department and Drug Enforcement Agency collaborations resulted in 30 arrests related to a major cocaine trafficking organization in the area. All told, the APD spent approximately 6,000 additional hours in the Weed and Seed area.
“We’ve seen residents become more engaged in community affairs and work together to ensure they have safer neighborhoods,” said APD Capt. Tim Splain. “That, and the relationships that have been forged with their police officers will help sustain a lower level of crime and better quality of life.”
Changing Together Director Missy Reed hopes those relationships will find a new home in the regional crime prevention initiative. Coordinating with community members, federal, state, city and county law enforcement agencies, the initiative gives the most violent habitual offenders notice that they have an opportunity to participate in programs aimed at moving them out of a criminal lifestyle. At the same time, they put offenders on notice that any further criminal actions will be prosecuted with the intent of pursuing the strongest conviction possible.
“The community has to be at the heart of everything we do,” Reed said.
“Like Weed and Seed, Changing Together is driven by the concerns and desires of the neighbors who live in this community.”