Filed under: Police

Reaching Out Together to address homelessness and illegal camping **VIDEO**

As the temperature rises, so do reports of illegal camping in Asheville. Many of these campers are experiencing some level of homelessness.

In addressing the problem of illegal camping, the Asheville Police Department and the Asheville/Buncombe Homeless Initiative is partnering with service providers to make sure people in the camps are informed about local options like the VA Medical Center, ABCCM Veterans Restoration Quarters and A HOPE. The following video, “Reaching Out Together,” highlights a push to reinforce the relationships between the homeless, local service providers and police.

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.

Leave a Comment July 3, 2012

Celebrating Weed and Seed’s community connections

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.

Weed and Seed celebration

Mayor Terry Bellamy (far left) with Fred Hudson (far right), of the Western District U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“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.”

Weed and Seed celebration

A big priority of the Weed and Seed program was to build strong relationships between APD officers and the 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.

Weed and Seed Celebration

Non-profits are even more engaged in the community, responding with the services neighborhoods say they want to see.

“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.”

Leave a Comment June 26, 2012

Asheville Police Department offers free motorcycle safety course

The Asheville Police Department, in partnership with BikeSafe NC, will give a free Rider Skills training session June 23 at the APD’s downtown location.

APD BikeSafeNCThe training session addresses safety issues and rider skills that allow motorcyclists to better avoid accidents and enjoy the ride. APD motor officers will assess riders’ skill levels and give advice customized for all levels of expertise and any style of bike. The day will cover professional riding techniques, causes of collisions, hazard perception, first aid, gear selection and a system of motorcycle control.

“This is a great opportunity for motor officers to engage with recreational motorcyclists and talk safety, talk motorcycles, and then go out and ride together,” says Lt. Stony Gonce. “It is another way to build community partnerships and make our roadways safer.”

The BikeSafe Rider Skills Day is offered free to the public but registration is required. Since this is the first year the Asheville Police Department has participated in BikeSafe Rider Skills Day, the department is currently assessing interest in the class and will schedule classes based on community interest. Visit bikesafenc.com or email sgonce@ashevillenc.gov with questions.

BikeSafe is a partnership between the NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program and local law enforcement agencies.

Leave a Comment June 6, 2012

Teens get a close up look at dangers of unsafe driving

On May 15, the Asheville Fire and Police Departments, in partnership with Buncombe County EMS, the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department and the North Carolina Highway Patrol staged a mock motor vehicle fatality on the campus of Asheville High School to encourage teens to drive safely.

Safe Driving demoSeveral hundred Asheville teens attended the demonstration, which was preceded by a presentation from Asheville ABC Law Enforcement, Asheville High School and SILSA High School on the importance of driver safety, seat belts, obeying traffic laws and speed limits, and the dangers of drunk driving.

“Motor vehicle accidents are now the number one killer of teens,” says AFD spokesperson Kelley Klope. “We sincerely believe that through this on-going teenage driver safety program and with strong parental support, teenage traffic fatalities can be eliminated in our community.”
Asheville High driving safety demonstration
(Special thanks to Johnson Auto Parts for donating the vehicle and Rice Towing for delivering it and hauling it away.)

Leave a Comment May 16, 2012

APD and BCSO team up on the Special Olympics Torch Run

On Monday, May 14, members of the Asheville Police Department and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office teamed up to participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit the Special Olympics. The group escorted the torch through Black Mountain before passing it on to the Old Fort Police Department to continue its trip east.

special olympics torch run
From left to right: Lt. Mike Yelton, Sgt. Rebecca Allen, Brandon Morgan, Lt. Gary Gudac, Billy Morrissey, Nick Mitchell, Sgt. Ronnie Lance, Lt. Chris Young, Dep. Vicky Bradley, Lt. Stony Gonce.

Leave a Comment May 16, 2012

Capt. Daryl Fisher retires after 23 years with the APD

Twenty three years on any job and you are bound to make close friends, but 23 years on the job with the Asheville Police Department, and you are family. That’s what Captain Daryl Fisher said at his April 24 retirement party, surrounded by friends and colleagues from the APD, the City of Asheville and the community at large.

“It has been fun. This is truly a family,” Fisher said.  “Everybody has to look out for each other. Without that, we’re out there alone. Stick together, look out for each other and be safe.”

Captain Fisher retirement

APD Chaplain Bill Snyder presents a cut-and-paste "Facebook" to Capt. Daryl Fisher at Fisher's retirement party.

Widely recognized in the community for his work both within and outside the department, Fisher reaffirmed the close-knit ties officers have as a team.

Fisher began his APD career as a patrol officer in 1989 and worked in multiple arms of the department including the Drug Suppression and Criminal Investigation Units, achieving the rank of Captain in 2007. Along the way, Fisher contributed invaluable support to milestones within the department, including participating in major drug investigations as a member of the Metropolitan Enforcement Group and later as command of the Drug Suppression Unit. He was integral in the move of the APD’s emergency communication operations into the joint 911 call center the City now shares with Buncombe County and for the past two years has overseen command of the Patrol Division.

At his reception, amid stories and jokes from his fellow officers, Fisher was presented with his service weapon by APD Chief William Anderson who cited Fisher for his “Character, dedication and preparation.” Anderson was especially thankful for the help Fisher provided for the incoming chief, who took on the job earlier this year. “He made sure I had as much information as possible when I came in,” Anderson said. “Daryl is an example of what we want to accomplish.”

Asheville City Manger Gary Jackson praised Fisher for upholding the integrity of the department. “He has always done good work and he has made the department proud through it all,” Jackson said.

Leave a Comment April 30, 2012

APD recognizes achievements at annual banquet

ASHEVILLE – On the evening of 3-01-12, the City of Asheville Police Department held its annual Awards Banquet to celebrate the many achievements of the department from the previous year.

Asheville’s own local celebrity Harry Anderson, (from TV’s Night Court and Dave’s World), very graciously and hilariously provided the evenings entertainment and expertly shepherded the award recipients through the night’s festivities.

Among the many receiving awards this year:

Sgt. Ernie Welborn: Officer of the Year

Sgt. Ernie Welborn, a 27 year veteran of the department, constantly proves himself to be a valuable asset to both the police department and the City of Asheville. Ernie began his career in 1985 and has served the department as a Patrol Officer, K9 Handler, Forensic Technician, Detective, and Detective Sergeant.

He has assisted or led thousands of case investigations ranging from homicides, rapes, assaults, frauds, and theft. Sgt. Welborn is known around the office for his technical computer skills, and has the reputation for being able to find just about anything on anyone electronically. These skills have aided in the apprehension of countless numbers of wanted and missing persons.

Sgt. Welborn has done a great deal of research for APD in preparing our agency for electronic reporting of pawned items, commonly referred to as “Leads Online”. If enacted, this ordinance will assist APD in locating stolen property much quicker, and hopefully apprehending thieves.

He has researched and outlined the necessary technical specifications of a proposed interview room and camera system for the Investigations Division that once installed will enable better recording of suspect interviews.

Sgt. Welborn has spent a great deal of time and work coordinating with the District Attorney’s Office and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) in moving the department forward with electronic DA Papering. This program is still in a pilot phase with Asheville being one of a handful of departments across NC participating. Once fully enacted, this undoubtedly will save thousands of dollars per year in paper and personnel costs to our agency.

In the 2011 calendar year, Sgt. Welborn has assigned and/or closed over 6,700 cases and 5,600 detective case supplements.

Chief Anderson and the men and women of the Asheville Police Department are very proud of Sgt. Welborn’s achievements as an Asheville Police Officer and for his excellent service to the community and the City of Asheville.

Nancy Carlson: Volunteer of the Year

Ms. Carlson has been volunteering for the Asheville Police Department for nearly 18 years traveling from Transylvania County once a week to volunteer in Victim Services.

Karla Reed: Volunteer of the Year

Ms. Reed has been volunteering with the Departments Emergency Response Team for 17 years as the units Paramedic. Before retiring from Buncombe County EMS, she would burn holiday or vacation time to train with the team. She is the team’s longest serving member.

Grey Clough: Explorer of the Year

Mr. Clough is an Asheville High School student who joined the Explorer Post in 2010.
He has shown his dedication to the Post by volunteering to assist at such events as the Christmas Parade, Bele Chere, and meeting and sharing with youth students at the Reid Center. He is an informal leader to newer members and was a member of the team that won first place in Felony Vehicle Stops, at the Winterfest Competition in Gatlinburg, TN.

Sgt. Don Eberhardt: Chaplains Award

Sgt. Eberhardt, a 12 veteran of the department, was awarded the Chaplains award for his continued support and dedication to this all volunteer unit of civilian chaplains. Chaplain’s duties include counseling, crisis response, visiting sick or injured officers and their families, and providing assistance with death notifications.

Barbara Brank: Civilian Employee of the Year

Barbara is a 20 year veteran employee of the department and is currently assigned to the Central Records Unit. In a job that demands excellent customer service skills, Barbara always rises to the challenges and demands of her job. Her work ethic is second to none and in the past year has taken more than 49% (over 600) of the reports taken by the Central Records Unit. This is a count unmatched by most, if not all, of the officers of the department.

Leave a Comment March 16, 2012

APD issues Amber Alert

UPDATE – APD cancels Amber Alert – Child Safe.
Asheville – Asheville Police issued an Amber Alert on Wednesday afternoon for 2 year old Amayei Collington, Amayei was taken by his father Durrell Marquise Norris, Norris is operating a 2011 Silver Dodge Charger with Alabama Tags 58J66A2.  Norris is believed to be Suicidal and possibly armed with a firearm.  Norris also has outstanding warrants in Asheville for Communicating threats and assault on a female and an unserved civil notice for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (50-B).  Norris has made threats of suicide if approached by police.   Last seen in the East Asheville area this date.  It is believed that Norris is still in the Asheville area,  If located do not approach, call 911, or *HP immediately.

Leave a Comment February 15, 2012

APD promotes newest sergeant

ASHEVILLE – The Asheville Police Department on Friday celebrated the promotion of Scott C. Pruett to the rank of sergeant.

Pruett has served at APD since 1992. He had previously been a member of the high-profile Traffic Safety Unit, where he eventually led as acting sergeant for several months before assuming acting supervisor duties in the Patrol Division.  He is also a member of the department’s Motorcycle Unit.

Pruett will now supervise a team of day-shift officers in West Asheville.

Interim Chief Wade Wood said he was honored to promote Pruett, with whom he has worked since their early days at APD.

“I wish you the best,” Wood said.

Pruett said he was very moved by the turnout of people to share in his promotion – among them family, co-workers and colleagues from other agencies.

“I am grateful to each and every one of you,” he said.

Scott Pruett takes his oath to become an Asheville police sergeant. His wife Tera holds the Bible, as their son Sean looks on.

Sgt. Scott Pruett's wife Tera pins on his APD sergeant badge at his Oct. 7 promotion ceremony.

APD Interim Chief Wade Wood congratulates Sgt. Scott Pruett on his promotion at a ceremony held Oct. 7.

APD Interim Chief Wade Wood congratulates Sgt. Scott Pruett on his promotion.[/caption]

Leave a Comment October 10, 2011

APD takes on SHP in charity football game

UPDATED: 10/3, 3:30 p.m.:

Due to a last-minute scheduling conflict, Rep. Heath Shuler will be unavailable for Sunday’s game. An updated date and time for the game will be released as soon as possible.

ASHEVILLE – At 2 p.m. on Oct. 9, employees of the Asheville Police Department and the N.C. Highway Patrol will face off at T.C. Roberson High School in their third annual flag football game to raise money for Eblen Charities.

Celebrity quarterbacks Brad Johnson and Heath Shuler will steer the teams, with Johnson leading APD and Shuler leading the Highway Patrol.

Tickets are $3.

All proceeds will benefit Eblen, a community organization that helps thousands of families in Western North Carolina meet their medical and emergency assistance needs.

For more information about Eblen Charities, visit: http://www.eblencharities.org/.

APD quarterback Brad Johnson directs an officer during the 2010 APD-SHP charity game to raise money for Eblen Charities. The teams will face off again on Sunday.

Heath Shuler volunteered his expertise as a quarterback to lead the Highway Patrol in last year's charity game against APD. The teams came together to raise money for Eblen Charities.

Leave a Comment October 3, 2011

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