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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Violence tied to bars in downtown Wilmington has been making news for years. It’s sparked a lot of debate but little action. Many folks say this proves downtown Wilmington needs a serious logistical makeover, but what exactly needs to be fixed?

“When do we start taking responsibility for our actions?” Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said. “And that’s where this whole thing needs to go. That’s where the conversation needs to drive. Both personal responsibility as an individual and personal responsibility as a business owner.”

Evangelous said lack of police is not the problem.

“The police aren’t the answer here,” he said. “We’re one cog in the wheel. The easy, the cleanest thing to do is, ‘Well the police can solve this. It’s the police’s problem.’ It’s not the police’s problem. We’re one part of the solution to the problem.”

So, if the police aren’t the problem, then what is? Wilmington Downtown Inc executive director John Hinnant says the state should give more control to the local government when it comes to alcohol enforcement laws.

“Perhaps it’s time for them to allow local municipalities to handle alcohol enforcement,” Hinnant said. “Not that more police would have stopped this death, but certainly we could definitely do a better job state wide of managing ABC laws.”

City councilman Kevin O’Grady says the murder on Market Street proves downtown needs change, like stronger licensing and police enforcement.

“Two years ago when I started the path of making these reforms, the first thing I said was some day we’re going to have a bad incident downtown, and it’s going to give us a bad reputation,” O’Grady said. “Well this is the kind of incident that can do that.”

For now, the talk continues with no word on when any action will happen.

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