WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous asked for and received more than $142,000 for a new gang investigative unit, and reinforcements are coming to his department not a minute too soon.
“Our officers are running ragged and we can’t be effective running from call, to call, to call,” said Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous.
Help is on the way for the Wilmington Police Department in the form of a new five member gang investigative unit.
This comes one day after the department said it would join with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office to form a 64-officer task force to step up patrols.
“What we’re doing by flooding the area right now is a tactic that most agencies will use for a short term approach,” said Evangelous. “We can have an impact. The problem is that it does hinder relations in the community.”
Though the Wilmington Police Department is at full staff Evangelous says it could be January before more uniforms hit the street.
To help bridge the gap the department will use part of the $142,000 from council for 10 new “over-hires” to create flexibility and cover department losses.
“Our good people leave,” said Evangelous. “They’ll make more money at other locations. Let’s pay them competitively, let’s pay them fairly.”
While council says they stand behind the chief they feel there are other ways the city can fight the ongoing violence.
“We need to try and create more hope for the men and women in our inner cities so that they don’t feel that they have to go to the gangs for their purpose in life,” said Councilman Kevin O’Grady.
“It costs us all as citizens $28,000 a year to incarcerate a human being,” said Mayor Bill Saffo. “We’d rather have that person out working, and being a productive citizen, paying taxes.”