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Neighbors discuss crime issues during National Night Out

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Lieutenant David Bowen, left, watches with children as someone falls into the water in the dunking booth during National Night Out at Jaycee Park on August 7, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Police officers and local officials hosted cookouts complete with inflatable houses and food trucks during National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer.

However, some neighbors expressed concern that police are not doing enough to address crime in their communities. 

At the Dream Park on Chestnut Street in west Greenville, Janice Freeman, 30, who works as a medical administrator, said National Night Out is good for children, but that after the event is over things return to normal.

“It’s good that kids associate with the police officers but if something happens, the community isn’t the same,” Freeman said.  “It’s going to go back to normal. Ain’t nobody going to trust nobody. This is the hood over here and we see stuff going on every day but we are minding our own business.” 

Freeman said more could be done to help those in her neighborhood. 

“If they can come out here once in a blue moon and feed the community, that would be nice,” she said. “There’s a lot of homeless people out here and I think police should do more for the community. There are so many women out here sleeping on the streets that if a police officer will help them, everything will be all right.

“Grown women shouldn’t be sleeping on the picnic tables at night,” Freeman said. “It’s crazy out here.”

Things are different in minority neighborhoods as opposed to white neighborhoods, she said.

“I am not a racist, however, If we are over in the white community, it’s way different,” Freeman said. “People are over here robbing us and everytime something happens, it’s always somebody with a T-shirt, blue jeans and dreadlocks. That’s always the description. 

Gunshots in the night 

Reginald Eaton, 56, who is a father of three said he is concerned for his safety and the safety of his children. 

“You hear gunshots throughout the night and this is scary, especially if you have kids; it makes you feel uneasy,” Eaton said.  “And you never know where it's coming from. Anytime you have random gunshots in your neighborhood, I don’t think anybody’s going to feel safe.”

Eaton said police cannot be everywhere, he wishes that officers would talk to adults who are concerned about teenagers having easy access to guns.  

“You can’t have police on the scene 24/7, but if you get the guns out of the wrong people’s hands, that’s a start,” Eaton said. 

“Guns are easy to get. No matter the age or race, if you want a gun, you can get a gun,” he said. “If you’ve got money to buy a gun or people that can get a gun, that’s all you need.”

Eaton said National Night Out is a great way for police to connect with youth but he wishes they also would talk to parents. 

“National Night Out is more for the kids. But they are not communicating with the adults,” Eaton said. “It’s targeting the kids and helping to prevent them from having the mentality of wanting to go out and start shooting. That’s good, but it’s not the kids doing the shooting.  You’re not going to see a lot of 12- and 13 year-olds out here on National Night Out.”   

Eaton who works as a maintenance technician for public housing, said he sees children without parents every day.   

“I’m going into some of these houses and the parents are nowhere to be found,” he said. “Parents need to spend more time with their children. If these kids had more things to do in Greenville that would keep them off the streets, maybe that would some of the crime.” 

Eaton suggested a possible gun prevention initiative but was quick to point out that it is the people behind the guns who are the problem. 

“Everybody wants to know about a gun and wants to get a gun,” he said. “And guns don’t kill people. It’s the people behind the guns that kill people.”

East side

Over at Jaycee Park, Michelle Sartore, 37, an employee at Aramark, said she came out to National Night Out because she’s concerned about crime, especially since she recently was a victim of a break-in.   

“I had someone break into my outside shed in my storage area a couple of weeks ago,” Sartore said. “I had to call 911 and they came out, investigated and helped me out quite a bit. It’s still under investigation. It worries me. I love National Night Out and wanted to come because of that.”

Sartore said that having more of a police presence would help ease her concern. She has a young son and said that she worried for his safety following the break-in.

“I don’t feel that safe but I am getting there,” she said. “I’m trying. Having cops driving around my neighborhood a little bit more does make me feel a little safer.”

Marsha Hall, 42, a mother of three who works as an administrator, said she also is happy to see police presence in her neighborhood. 

“It’s really good to have this type of event,” Hall said. “I love to see the police officers sitting down eating with the community. This is my neighborhood and I think we’ve got the best neighborhood in Greenville.”  

Other events were held in downtown Greenville, Boyd Lee Park and the Barnes Ebron-Taft Building, as well as other spots in Pitt County.

Police officers at each location also promoted property safety through printed materials and presentations and gave out information on “safe police encounters.” 

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566.  Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR

 

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