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Police, council trying to fix continued downtown problems

READ MORE: Police, council trying to fix continued downtown problems

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Another weekend and more violence in downtown Wilmington. When the bars closed in Wilmington this weekend, police say fights broke out, a police horse and patrol car became victims and someone reported a man pointing a gun at people.

A lot of the crime happens on Market Street between Front and 2nd Street between the hours of midnight and 3:00 a.m. Part of the problem, Councilman Kevin O'Grady says, is an over-concentration of bars in a small amount of space. He says City Council is working on a solution.

"It's just crazy, I think, what's going on," said Steve Oliver, who frequents downtown bars. "It's like Wilmington used to be so safe."

More entries on an already crowded list of strange incidents downtown. Police say early Saturday morning, a drunk driver with a revoked license hit a WPD horse, and another drunk punched the same horse. The horse was not hurt.

Then fights broke out leading to eight arrests.

The next night, after warnings from officers, Robert Cook, hit a parked police cruiser and was arrested for DWI. Then police arrested 22-year-old Charles Jefferson on a gun charge after a witness said Jefferson was pointing a .45-caliber gun at people in the 200 block of Princess Street.

The Sheriff's Office and ALE are now assisting WPD downtown, but O'Grady says more cops are needed.

"Probably need to get some more police on the street, and to do that we need a way to fund it," O'Grady said. "And then the question is who should pay for it? I don't know that generally the taxpayers should pay for it. We need to find a way that the industry that's creating the problem funds the solution."

WPD Capt. Jeff Allsbrook says officers are doing all they can.

"A lot of these crimes are happening right in front of our officers," Allsbrook said. "The things this weekend, it's involving a police horse and a police vehicle, so it's not that these things are going on because the police officers aren't there."

O'Grady said he met with the chairman of the ABC Commission last week to present a plan.

"For future clubs coming downtown, we're going to require a separation from the others so we don't get a congregation of large clubs in a small area, which is part of the problem," O'Grady said.

Wilmington Police say they are using tremendous resources downtown, but they don't have enough in their budget to put more officers on busy nights downtown. They say they already have cops working overtime those nights.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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The Real Truth

I will first start off by saying that I read everyone's comments and can't say that I agree with them all. In some cases, this is a stage for people to get on their proverbial “soap box”. Nontheless, there is a common concern among many of us and the major issue is that there are problems in downtown Wilmington, NC, big problems! Crimes will be committed and people can point the fingers in many directions. Is it the alcohol, police or taxes? I don’t think any of these issues get to the root if the problem. The problem we are having in our downtown is the same problem most major cities are having. Nobody with any kind of authority is willing to do anything about it, or very little to say the least. However, some cities have had success in cleaning up its crime. Let’s take New York City for example. This is a major city that had major problems and the crime rate was out the roof. It was not until someone in power, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, decided that there was nothing more important than cleaning up his city. Until we get some city officials with guts and desire to clean up our city, even at the smallest levels of crime, we will not see any progress.
See folks, I have had the opportunity to see what goes on in our court system when people try to prosecute someone for starting a “bar fight”. The system is flawed to the point that most are not prosecuted. If you are assaulted by someone downtown and try to prosecute them in our criminal court system, you are faced with fighting another losing battle. The truth is, no matter how much evidence you may have that you were assaulted, unless there is a definitive third-party whiteness that can attest that you were assaulted for no reason or fault of your own, no justice will be served. Even if you have a several creditable whiteness, if the judge finds “reasonable doubt” to who is the instigator, no one will be prosecuted. The real crime is that our local attorneys have gotten really good a defending the offenders because of this “reasonable doubt issue”. The people who were hurt and injured, and in some cases severely injured, do not get their due justice. This is eerily familiar to a very high profile case conducted in the 1990’s involving a white Ford Bronco.
There is one particular case I sat through where a known male offender, someone who has a record for assaulting people in the Wilmington area, decides to brutally assault three women in our downtown area. Yes, I said, a male assaulting women! One of the women was seriously injured with a deep laceration (needing 9 or more stitches) to her face which resulted from being knocked out by this person and purposely stomped on by someone in the offender’s party. This offender got off because of the “reasonable doubt” issue, even though he never denied assaulting these ladies. It is also, for this reason the police are less likely to arrest people who are involved in what they consider a “bar fight” even though it happened on the sidewalk on Front St. This sort of crime, and many like it, is perpetuating the problem and allowing these people to become repeat offenders with no concern for be prosecuted. Thus, instilling fear in law abiding citizens from the possibility of being assaulted in our downtown area.
Our elected officials and law enforcement agencies work for the people and it is about time we start holding them accountable. I am starting a grass roots campaign for the people to hold out elected officials responsible for cleaning up our city and making it a safe place to spend time with our families and friends. If you wish to take back our city, join our effort. You can start by emailing your comments and concerns to stoptheviolenceinwilmingtonnc@gmail.com.
To the media: it is time to start reporting on the real issue and stop interviewing the people who are more concerned about covering their own interest and are apt to pointing the finger. Do some real investigative reporting so the true story is told about what is going on in Wilmington, NC. Start with the court records and the person most responsible for making sure our city is safe, our elected Mayor. I plan to do the same.

It's never going to change

I've lived in the wilmington area for over 15 years and downtown has been a problem for about 12 of them. I had a friend get robbed at gunpoint by the Hilton around that time so how have things changed? The police department is just now realizing there is crime downtown? The crime and fights ect will never change downtown because the police won't change it. Do you hear about people pointing guns at people on the Myrtle beach strip? I haven't... That's because the cops will throw you in jail just for being in the street talking to a car full of girls. Trust me I was told to get out of the street or he was taking me to jail. I could go on and on but my point is that Wilmington has grown, is growing, and will continue to grow. Unfortunatly there is more crime ect that stems from that. Downtown will only get worse as time goes by unless the police realize that this is not the same city it was 15 years ago and when a city changes it's up to the people who run the city to make sure you can feel safe wherever you are... Not enough officers? Hire more... Not enough $? Make room for it in the budget.. Aren't the 1000s of citizens lives worth more than say 50 extra cops salaries? Cops should be walking downtown constantly on weekends not standing around like they do. It's all about presence and if people knew there were enough cops downtown they would take there crime and foolishness elsewhere. It will never change because the city will never seem to find the money to make downtown a safe place to be. Let's face it there will always be criminals but the question is will the city make the right changes needed to control the situation? Wilmington cops downtown on the weekend seem to be more interested in aggressively driving behind innocent people like me who aren't doing a thing wrong than to be catching the real criminals.

A cop walking! You're kidding, right?

I haven't observed an officer walking since I was a teenager. I'm not kidding. I didn't know that they taught walking a beat in the academy. Around my area you will not see an officer of any description in an upright position unless he is walking fom his vehicle to another vehicle.

I truly believe that if traffic enforcement was a low priority and actually having an officer where crime is being committed, it would be a good use of the tax dollar. When citizens are afraid to walk the streets, anytime of the day or night, the cops need to be on the streets. Park the cars and walk. Some of the officers could use the exercise. The city can make the necessary changes to keep the streets safe but the officers are going to have to wear out some shoe leather instead of vehicles.

One of my favorite mottos is: Ain't nothing good gonna happen after midnight.

Whatever

If people could go out and have a couple drinks and relax everything would be alright. There is always going to be those people that want to get so drunk they can barely stand and the ones that want to fight everybody. In this case a few bad apples ruin the bunch. Just go out have a drink look at the talent and relax.

Why don't you people stop

Why don't you people stop pointing fingers, let the police arrest the criminals accordingly, and quit making the college students of UNCW out to be the main contributers to the problems in your area. For those proposing police checkpoints, if you haven't already noticed there are checkpoints on Market St. almost every weekend. For those that say crack down on drinking, ALE has been in Wilmington for numerous months now and has been writing absurd citations, breathilizing passengers in taxis ect (how much more responsible and safe can you be). Realize where the crime is coming from and don't be so quick to point the finger at a college student trying to enjoy their college experience by responsibly going to a club. I'm sure you would understand, given the fact you were once a young adult as well.

Give me a break!

"...officers are doing all they can."

He can't be serious. Apparently most, if not all, of the officers downtown standing in a circle and talking to each other (another poster hit on this)is all they can do. And if that's not enough, when calling 911 to report a fight, that's if the operator answers in a reasonable time (sometimes 10+ rings, and a whole different story), most times the responding officers couldn't show any less sense of urgency as they slowly walk from their "hangout" on Market St.

Most fights are broken up after it's too late and rarely any arrests ever made. Most offenders are sent to leave in different directions, without punishment. How about officers at least issuing citations? How about that for funding? Aren't there such charges as drunk in public and disturbing the peace?

Oh yeah, I now remember officers saying on more than one occasion that they don't want to do the paperwork.

I believe there are plenty of police officers downtown. Officers just need to spread out. There are some trouble areas where officers may walk by as little as three times over a four hour period, only to return to their Market St. post. Now, if that doesn't stop crime I don't know what will.

I've always been a firm believer that over a dozen officers spread out over the downtown bars area is more effective than that same dozen standing in a circle. Call me stupid. To me, I think the average joe is a lot less likely to act up in the presence of one officer than knowing that several are two blocks away. The officers will say they like to act in numbers. Well, maybe that's because by the time the officers get to the scene it's already escalated past the point that only one officer could have already easliy prevented.

My credentials... I've worked in the Wilmington bar industry for several years and have seen this first hand on too many occasions.

It's time WPD starts cracking down on the drunken idiots and begins tightly enforcing laws. Enough of the "not enough officers" excuse!

SPREAD OUT!

...as my parents would say, "go make yourself useful!"

The Adult Choice

Downtown used to be for everyone but with the new addition of more upscale options at Mayfair and the beach clubs staying open year round, the more mature crowd have taken their business to the safer burbs and the beaches after dark.

Adults

This is an interesting thought and one I hadn't considered. I guess the question is; which happened first?...adults left because of the bad behavior...or adults left and the bad behavior began? Either way, there is some validity to this thought!

Fine The Bars!!!!!

Fine the bars for the actions of their patrons!!!!! Fine the makers of weapons for every gun crime committed!!!! Fine the auto manufacturers for every one hurt or killed in an auto accident!!!! Fine my mom and dad for the times I got in a fight!!!! Wait I Know fine GOD he made it all!!!!

Provide the citizens of this town the services we are taxed for, proper amount of police enforcement!!!! At one point there used to be a surveillance RV downtown, a paddy wagon and a crew of officers on the streets. It was that you couldn't throw a rock in any direction and it would hit a cop on the weekends. Recently after the bars close, you can walk blocks and not see one officer. I know I used to do it. I lived downtown for 6.5 years. Patrol downtown properly when it is busy!!!

And again for all the people who complain, "its just not safe to bring your family out in the evenings," give me a break. If you are out after 10 p.m. with "Your Family" bring your kids home and put them to bed!!!

The problem here is the same as the problem that plagues or country today!!!
Responsibility!!! Stop your whining, Stop your finger pointing, Own up to your actions. Individual accountability is the answer. YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW!!!
If my kid screws up in school, it is not the schools fault. It is my kids fault or mine. I am really tired of every person on the planet blaming the environment for their actions!!! TAKE RESPONSIBILTY FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS!!!!

Screw up get arrested, get punished and fined!!! That is the answer. Pay for your actions!!!!

Why don't we try something

Why don't we try something that hasn't been mentioned here yet, DEREGULATION!

When the clock strikes the hour of 2am, what happens? The entire population of revelers in clubs good and bad, drinkers responsible or irresponsible are set onto the streets en masse.

Let the owners of the clubs determine how late they wish to be open. Some will stay later, some will close earlier depending on what "their" crowd desires...

Instead of an environment that encourages "power drinking" in anticipation of closing, let the public determine how much and how long they desire to party and drink.

Local government has tried many ideas, none of which have worked. Let the marketplace work. Police resources would not have to be geared up for a 2am battle and the taxi companies would not be overburdened leaving intoxicated folks no choice but to drive themselves.

Here's what the problem is-

Young kids who think they are living in the streets of New York or Los Angeles. They think they are cool with their "thug" look and wanna fight when they get drunk. If I had my way, I WOULD enforce a very strict dress code, no thug looking clothes. AND, I would not allow ANYONE in the bar if they were under 25 years old. White, black, hispanic, indian, whatever. That's how you keep peace for the most part.

Start arresting

If they were to arrest more people the word will get out and it will slowly stop...

WPD should be allowed to do their job.. Take them ALL in

The problem seems

to be on Friday and Saturday after closing. Here's a thought.

Allow 30 minutes after closing for the patrons to clear the streets and be on their way home.

At 2:30 AM, turn loose the lion and tiger, from Tregembo's Zoo on Carolina Beach Road, at Market and Dock Street. Equip them with GPS monitors so they can be picked up at 6:00 AM. Should not be that hard to pick them up if bar patrons ignore warnings to go home. Administer toxicology examination to lion an tiger to insure they did not ingest something toxic or habit forming.

That may accomplish several goals.

Bring back the street teams!

Bring back the street teams!

Let's be honest. There are a

Let's be honest. There are a lot more clubs on Front between Dock and Princess than there are on Market between Front and Second. The problems are coming from the 2 black clubs in that area. I'm sure someone will call me racist, but it's just the truth of what's going on. Also, the police could protect downtown better if they spread out more. You always see them standing in a group in an alley smoking cigarettes and staring at college girls. They shouls separate and cover more ground.

Shut it down hard.

Spreading out the bars is only going to raise ancillary problems such as muggings and rapes. The further apart they are, the further people will be walking afterdark past allies. It also will do very little to curb the large mill of people that congregate at Front & Market as they get out of downtown.

I seriously don't think they understand the exact problem here and definitely aren't thinking like a drunk person.

28 N Front: I Love NY Pizza
122 Market St: Slice of Life
Taxi Cab Stands: 2nd - 3rd Market

In a tight two block radius on a single street, you have just about every single place a drunk wants to go when they're kicked out of a bar at 2am. I'm sorry, but no matter the radius of downtown if you continue to dump them out at precisely the same time and have all the major food venues and taxi cabs in the same place - you are going to end up with problems.

However, it makes it really, really easy to saturate a single area and crack down a few weeks in a row to set a tone. WPD needs to make visible arrests for anything that warrants an arrest and send a clear message that it really won't be tolerated.

Put a checkpoint on each road that leads into downtown, and let them know you mean business. I've seen Raleigh do it. I've seen Chapel Hill do it. We don't have enough officers to feasibly lock downtown to send a message, but SHP, Brunswick, and Pender can certainly be contracted for a night or two. This will cost money to fix.

Downtown at Night

There are WAY too many bars in downtown Wilmington which makes it a VERY unappealing place. There is no need for so many bars in Wilmington. There are already so many problems with drunk driving, violence, etc. The City of Wilmington needs to get on the ball, and start paying police officers enough so that they can actually KEEP officers working in Wilmington instead of giving no raises, raising costs of insurance, threatening pay cuts, etc. What do you think that does for morale? It is ridiculous that Wilmington refuses to pay people so that they can actually afford to live in the city they are to serve, and why are they not doing more to HIRE more people when it is CLEARLY needed. We moved away from Wilmington several months ago, and are so glad that we did. Where we live now is right outside of a larger city...a city that is SO much cleaner than Wilmington. A place that doesn't tax the hell out of people-I really question where a lot of the money goes in Wilmington, and also wonder who does the budgeting for the city/county. Normal people can budget much better--it's simple- DO NOT SPEND WHAT YOU DO NOT HAVE. Prioritize and make sure money goes to public safety-that should definitely come first! It's a shame what Wilmington has turned into over the years. I can say this because I lived in Wilmington my entire life, and it breaks my heart to see the downfall over the years! It really use to be a nice place to raise a family. Now, no one can afford to live in Wilmington and the population surpasses what Wilmington can handle. You can clearly see this in the construction of the roads. It was not meant to be a large city. I really hope things do turn around in time. LIMIT the number of bars...especially Downtown. It does nothing but ASK for trouble. No one can take their families downtown in the evenings for fear of trouble. It's just not safe. Just go Downtown on any Friday or Saturday evening especially, and you will see that it is a very unsafe environment for anyone. How much more will it take for things to turn around in Wilmington? It's truly a shame that what could be a BEAUTIFUL place is ridden with drunks, HUGE amounts of section 8 housing greeting people when they arrive to Wilmington, and the large amount of homeless on the streets. Take a look at the real estate in Wilmington as well- why are people being taxed for property that is valued at say (example) $165,000, but you cannot even sell it for even $130,000 right now? The city and county are driving the good, hard working people away. Please wake up elected leaders...clean Wilmington up instead of trying to annex more when you clearly cannot handle what is already within the city limits.

wrong soap box

You have seriously gotten away from the topic here. You need to vent about taxes and anexation in a letter to the editor. The people in this article don't now and probably never will be responsible adults to deal with tax and anexation issues. Keep focused on the topic of discussion.

How about closing them 2

How about closing them 2 hours earlier. If they want to stay open longer they can but they have to hire 3 officers for the night.

ps: WWAY you're question for testing whether you are a human visitor with the devil ad is pathetic!

I agree 100%. Not with your

I agree 100%. Not with your first comment but these absolutely pathetic verification system Ads. What is going on with you WWAY? Are you really that hard up for money?

I had to watch a 15 second Dish Network ad just to get the verification code to post this comment, which will most likely be deleted. This is absurd. Cmon WWAY, is this really what its come to? Are you THAT determined to drive away your viewers??

I agree

I also found the human visitor test with the devil ad offensive.

I am furious

that these kids and thugs are allowed to behave like they do and hitting a horse is ANIMAL CRUELTY! Were these people arrested and charged? It doesn't take a 10th grade education to see that the city of Wilmington is allowing this behavior to go on and on every weekend. Don't forget elections are coming up and if you vote an incumbant back into office you are also a part of the problem, both city and county. I'd stand out there with a fire hose and the minute these pieces of trash and underage drinkers start up I would hit them full force. That would calm down their worthless, drunk and drugged up rear ends. You people need to start using your imagination in dealing with this. If you can't get them to quit then at least show them you mean business. Or are you afraid of them? My Lord I can't believe I would ever say something like this about downtown Wilmington. What a disgrace.

it can stop

as soon as the police use force.
spray the crowd down with pepper spray, use rubber bullets.
the crowd down their has no respect for anyone.
this is a bunch of punk kids,
treat them with the same respect they have for the police

He punched a horse?

Okay, the one who got a DUI while driving on a revoked license needs to go to jail for a long time. He basically told the state to go to blazes, he's going to do whatever he wants to do. Three years and a $10k fine would not be too severe.

The one who punched the horse? Obviously psychotic. He should be sent to Dorothea Dix, or wherever they warehouse the loons now. BTW, if someone tried to punch my horse I believe I'd either tazer him or beat his head flat with my baton.

As long as there are open

As long as there are open bars, there will be problems. Maybe the bar owners should start being fined when any of their patrons are involved in fights, etc.

fines for bars????

In reply to your comment: As long as there are bars there will be trouble and the owners should be fined.

Then I think as long as there are schools, the county should be fined..there sure are a lot of fights there.

As long as we have beaches, the state should be fined...sure seems like a lot of people swim when its dangerous and get hurt.

I could go on and on with the list but it boils down to accountability..place blame where it belongs and make people accountable for thier own behavior.

RE: As Ling as there aer

That is probably one of the most ridiculous comments I have heard...having the bar owners fined for what grown people do after they leave the bars?? How about this...FINE THE IDIOTS WHO ARE CAUSING THE TROUBLE! Instead, they are not held accountable for their actions and continue to give downtown a bad name. I work at a downtown bar and we very rarely have ANY problems. We have great staff who do their jobs and diffuse any potential situation before it becomes a problem. We have a trained staff that uses vigilance and professionalism. This needs to be the same for the police when the bars let out. I feel as though downtown bars have been targeted and put under a microscope lately because Wilmington is looking to squeeze money from somewhere...so why not try and tax bars a little more...

SOOOO TRUE!

No one is forcing people to drink, no one is forcing these people to act like idiots. Take some responsibility for your actions instead of trying to point the finger. The root of the problem is not bars and alcohol, it is the people that cant handle their booze...and the lurkers that roam the streets looking for trouble.

There are literally thousands of people who frequent downtown every week, consume spirits and have no problems at all. Bars sell and serve alcohol, yet do not twist any arms for their patrons to drink. Its about personal responsibility. Should we tax and fine car dealerships because they make cars faster than posted speed limits? NO...you speed, you get a ticket, you pay the fine. You drink too much, act like an idiot, you get arrested. Plain and simple. We dont need more police, we just need them to enforce the law. Instead of breaking up fights, start filling that Paddy Wagon!. The word will get out...and the dumb s**t will stop.

The bars are the ones

The bars are the ones serving the alcohol. The alcohol is the root of the problem. Why should the bars not assume some responsibility for the people that they helped intoxicate? There are laws already on the books in NC that hold those who serve alcohol at private parties responsible if a party-goer gets into an accident and hurts or kills someone, due to having too much to drink. There are also laws governing bars, but apparently they are not being followed.

Completely asinine post

Bars may be responsible in extreme cases in such as fatal auto accidents ( which I also beleive is ridiculous ). People have to take personal responsibility for thier OWN actions. Just as guns don't kill people, people kill people. Mature people go downtown and have a few drinks and arrange a sober ride home without incident regularly as I am one. Only a handful of young thugs choose to overindulge and make complete fools of themselves. We need to make an example of those who decide to create choas for our LEO's to deal with. So in short, alchohol is not the "root" of the problem. Stupid INDIVIDUALS are the "root" of this problem. Deal with those few harshly and others can continue to go downtown to enjoy the nightlife that I regularly enjoy.