YOUR VOICE YOUR VOTE: Council candidates discuss ideas for fighting Wilmington’s gang problem


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The election for Wilmington City Council is less than four weeks away, so we decided to ask the candidates for their ideas about fighting gang violence in the Port City.

Derek Bickel: “We need to try to break the cycle and get these kids hope and a future. And doing something like this DREAMS program or programs that are like that, I think that’s a great step forward to getting to these children as young as possible so the gangs to not get them first.”

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Felix Cooper: “One of the things we might be able to do would be to consolidate the city police department and the county sheriff’s department and provide more on-site or available law enforcement officers. And I think we’ve got to clamp down on some of these minor crimes that turn into these major crimes.”

Kevin O’Grady: “The solution, and the chief will say, you can’t arrest yourself out of these problems. You’ve got to deal with the cause, and that’s where we have to get to to get to the hopelessness that we find in urban youth.”

Charlie Rivenbark: “We’re going to get the bad guys. I don’t know how else to say it. We’re going to get these people off the street, and we’re going to do it as quickly as possible. And the chief of police and the sheriff of the county are working together closely to coordinate that very task, and we’re going to get it done.”

Skip Watkins: “We cannot investigate and incarcerate our way out of it. We’ve got to bring social change to the community, and that’s going to take everybody from the commission to the council to the school board to the business leaders and the citizens. We’ve got to go to the streets and bring athletic, academic and artistic programs to bring young people some hope.”

We tried reaching council member Earl Sheridan and Mayor Bill Saffo, but we have not heard back from them yet.