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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As expected, the New Hanover County ABC Board will pull back its funding to Wilmington’s Downtown Task Force.

The phasing out will happen gradually over the next few years. So what does this mean for your safety, and what does law enforcement think?

Bartender and bouncer Mark Williams say an increased law enforcement presence downtown makes a difference?

“They see a cop with handcuffs and a badge and all that. They are someone that can really get them in trouble. They tend to listen to them more,” Williams said.

But with the ABC Board phasing out its $180,000 a year contribution, folks may see less of a law enforcement presence downtown.

“We looked at our budget. We are taking on some projects here, and it is a cash flow issue,” ABC Board Chair Cedric Dickerson said.

The board voted to reduce its funding to the task force $60,000 a year.

By law, Dickerson says, they are mandated to give five percent of their budget to law enforcement, and the board is giving 12 percent.

“We want to do our part, and I think we are doing a little bit more than our part,” Dickerson said.

The loss in funding means the loss of three New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputy positions over the next several years to help with WPD’s downtown patrols.

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous says the crime rate downtown is down 69 percent since the early 2000s.

“We can’t relent right now,” he said. “We have to stay the course in this.”

Dickerson agrees.

“We don’t want the progress we’ve made downtown to reverse in anyway,” he said.

To make sure law enforcement’s progress does not take a hit along with the funding, Evangelous says New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon has talked to the county manager to see where else they can get the money.

“I am pretty confident that this will stay in place,” Evangelous said. “I know the sheriff is committed to do everything in his power to make it happen.”

The ABC Board says it first started its contribution to the task force in 2011 as a one-year committment.

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6 Comments on "Law enforcement looking for ways to make up ABC funding cut for downtown task force"

wilm city here
2015 years 10 months ago

why dont they add a 50cent tax on ever drinks sold down there

2015 years 10 months ago

Didn’t they recently vote to give their CEO or Director a ton of money on top of the outrageous salary he already made? They should give 15% to law enforcement considering all the trouble alcohol causes a community daily!

2015 years 10 months ago

A dedicated tax on sales on the liquor ABC sells in the county to be used to fund DWI enforcement, education and downtown patrols.

2015 years 10 months ago

Please all those guys do is hang out in front of their favorite places and talk to girls and all the wanna be cops posing as security.

2015 years 10 months ago

The board’s reasoning is obvious. Fewer cops visible, more drinking. More drinking equals more money made. Never mind the fights, disturbances and property damage, gotta make that dough.

Don’t worry about safety/security when there is money to be made.

2015 years 10 months ago

So, let me see if I have this right: A program to fund just three additional LEO’s downtown, that was started only three years ago, that will be gradually phased out over the next several years, is a huge problem? Really, that’s the big problem we should worry about?

If phasing out that program will wreak such havoc, maybe it would make sense to focus on the real issue: “Downtown” has become too far gone to be fixed by those now in charge. That’s a leadership problem. Keeping an additional three LEO’s is like trying to fix the problem by putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.

No surprise that Chief Evangelous said “We can’t relent right now” and “We have to stay the course in this.” Good move Chief, not having the additional LEO’s is the problem, not your lack of effectiveness. God forbid we should focus on that!

Any day now, Council members will be emerging from their little hidey hole chamber and start running around with “the sky is falling” pronouncements about this like a flock of Chicken Little’s on steroids. That would be the smart thing for them to do as well. Who knows, it might even be enough to distract Wilmingtonians from the fact that this little cabal of misfits is running Wilmington right into the ground.

If Wilmingtonians continue to pretend that little things like this ABC funding issue is the big deal, things will just continue to get worse around here.

Time for us all to grow up and focus on the real issue: ineffective leadership. Guess what?That’s not going to change until the voters get their fat lazy behinds out of their cushy Barcaloungers and make the effort to vote in some real leaders instead this little group of real estate insider deal makers.

Pretending the problem is something else won’t make it go away.


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