Wilmington police announce plan to address uptick in gun violence

Wilmington Police (Photo: WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Wilmington Police Department announced a plan to address an uptick in gun violence in the Port City Monday morning.

Members of the Wilmington Police Department presented the gun violence reduction plan at the city council agenda briefing Monday morning.

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Wilmington Interim Police Chief Donny Williams said, so far this year, they have seen 140 victims to gun violence and seven people have been killed. Williams said law enforcement agencies nationwide are seeing an uptick in gun violence.

Wilmington Police Deputy Chief Alejandra Sotelo said they have to start thinking differently if they want to change those numbers.

“We have to adapt in law enforcement,” Sotelo said. “Now, we’re using more technology. We have to change. We have to see what works and what doesn’t work and one thing we’re using more of is our community partners. You know we can’t do this alone. I can go out there. We can throw police officers at cases. We can throw police officers at corners and we could arrest, arrest, arrest, but if we don’t have the partnerships with the families, if we don’t have the partnerships with the DA’s office, it’s going to be the same thing.”

Chief Williams said the plan includes three parts: prevention, intervention, and enforcement.

Prevention includes starting early. The police department wants to expand their police activities league for kids including their midnight basketball program, and others sports like soccer, wrestling, dance, and cheerleading. Prevention also includes gun violence reduction tours at area churches and establishing a gang liaison to help bridge the gap. Finally, prevention includes a public awareness campaign.

Intervention includes identifying key people who are committing violent crime in the community and addressing those areas. It also includes making a list of area partners like law enforcement agencies, probation and jobs and tracking success.

Enforcement includes expanding resources and partnerships to patrol troubled areas.

New Hanover County District Attorney Bed David said the key piece to this plan is the community.

“We’re pretty good at enforcement. We need to do a better job I think on the community piece,” David said. “When we talk about seeing something and saying something, one of the best pieces of technology that we have is the text-a-tip program. People that always talk to me about the fear that they experience in their neighborhood of reprisal and intimidation. They need to understand that they can anonymously text a tip for where the drugs are, where the guns are, where the violent crime is occurring. At least give us the information to now pursue.”

Williams said this problem did not happen overnight and they are not going to solve it overnight.

“As far as the intervention and prevention piece, we need the community to help us craft those parts of the plan. We are just laying out some basic groundwork here,” Williams said.