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.

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You're ridiculous. Alcohol is not the problem. It's the people who can't handle the alcohol and predominately blacks that contribute to the REAL crime downtown, not the UNCW kids that are just trying to enjoy their college experience as you probably once did in your younger years.

You're ridiculous. Alcohol is not the problem. It's the people who can't handle the alcohol and more importantly the thugs that congregate downtown that don't even go in the bars that contribute to the REAL crime downtown, not the UNCW kids that are just trying to enjoy their college experience as you probably once did in your younger years.