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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon told county commissioners this morning he has a new plan to fight crime.

It involves a seven new positions, six deputies and one sergeant, who will work side-by-side with seven Wilmington Police officers in the city’s public housing projects.

McMahon says the rise in crime in these communities has to dealt with immediately. That’s why he asked county commissioners for more than $600,000 to form a new unit to help patrol the public housing communities.

“It’s going to be made up of seven deputies and seven police officers mixed in together,” McMahon said.

county commissioners unanimously approved the money monday morning.

“They deserve to live without fear,” Commissioner Thomas Wolfe said.

Wolfe says the partnership between the county and city is the answer.

“They’re gonna come up with some solutions and help us with the gang-related activity we’ve got in our community,” he said.

More than $260,000 will fund the full-time joint housing unit this year. More than $400,000 will pay for next year.

The Housing Unit will patrol Wilmington Housing Authority properties with two goals.

“We want to build a relationship and trust with the citizens who live in this area, and at the same time go ahead and remove the criminal element,” McMahon said.

Commission Chair Woody White said the sheriff proved that New Hanover County is at a tipping point.

“The preferred method of allocating tax payer dollars is to go through the budget process,” White said. “What we did today is an exception to that. The sheriff convinced us that the need is great; the need is now.”

And the money to fund it is available now.

We tried to talk with folks who live in these communities today, but no one would go on camera.

Last month Wilmington City Council agreed to fun a similar unit for the police department.

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