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Safety first: Officials outline goals for 2019

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A vehicle turns left onto Elm Street on Tuesday at the intersection of Charles Boulevard, where new traffic delineators restrict some turns in an effort to reduce crashes.

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The new year will give the Greenville Police Department a chance to refocus on what Chief Mark Holtzman calls the “Three Cs” — crime, crashes and community policing.

Holtzman, along with Pitt County Sheriff’s Paula Dance and Greenville Fire-Rescue Chief Eric Griffin, answered questions recently about goals for 2019. When it comes to crime, Holtzman said Greenville’s focus for the year is reducing gun violence and the gang violence that is often associated with gun violence. 

One of the ways the department will tackle the issue is through technology, Holtzman said.

“We put a lot of effort into bringing on a new project called Shot Spotter,” he said. “That’s really the latest technology and we’ll join less than 100 cities in the country that have that technology that brings real live information.”

The city council approved a three-year, $615,000 contract with Shot Spotter in October. The system strategically places sensors to pick up the sound of gunfire, pinpoint the location of the shots via computer triangulation and alert officers via smartphones within 60 seconds.

And while Holtzman said the technology will be helpful, it is not a policing panacea. 

“Technology won’t get you the whole way there. You need good cops, you need skilled officers,” Holtzman said. 

Reducing gun violence comes down to how quickly officers can get to the call, how quickly they receive information and how quickly they respond, Holtzman said. 

But gun violence is only one problems that needs to be addressed, he said. Greenville leads the state in the number of vehicular crashes.

“Out of 85 cities that are measured, we are No. 1 for the last two years,” Holtzman said. “This past summer, we really pulled together a team with our engineers, with DOT, our traffic safety officers, and even partnering with Vidant to put together a traffic safety task force.”

The department also is working with engineers to install traffic delineators at five busy intersection in town. Two have been installed on Charles Boulevard so far.

The reflective, flexible poles are arranged in a way to prevent vehicles from entering turning lanes from certain directions. They limit left turns and through traffic at the intersections.

Holtzman also said red light cameras installed at five intersections in November 2017 will continue to play a role in traffic safety. 

“It’s really about education, engineering, and enforcement when you look at reducing crashes,” Holtzman said. 

It’s all part of community policing, he said.

“It’s not a program, it’s a philosophy,” Holtzman said. “Every officer can be doing something every day, and we do, to engage the community to let them know we are out there working for them. From an everyday officer perspective, I’ve asked them to get out of the car, take a walk through a neighborhood, take a walk through a business district, make positive contact with somebody,” Holtzman said.  

Other goals for Holtzman are to improve recruitment and retention of good officers.  

“We are looking at pay incentives, and other wellness programs for our officers and we have a deficit just like every police department in the country does and we are all trying to recruit top candidates from around the area.  We’re focusing heavily on recruiting and retention,” Holtzman said.

Pitt County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Paula Dance said she is focused on keeping her campaign promise of procuring body cameras for deputies.

“Looking forward, there were things I talked about on the campaign trail, and body cameras was one of the big initiatives I did have,” Dance said. “I’ve had some discussion already with the county manager. He knows that is a very big priority for me to bring our department up to the 21st century as well.

Dance added, “I think that’s something that is good for the citizens and good for the officers to have those and I’ve already begun working on how we are going to get those and what it is going to take to get them.”

Another initiative is implementing a program to help inmates struggling with addiction. 

“I’ve already got something set up in January where we will be going forward with getting those things in place and figuring out our operational plan and who from the community we will be involving to help implement that and get it off the ground.”

Dance also briefly addressed school safety and said the sheriff’s office needs additional deputies to accommodate the demand for services by Pitt County Schools. 

“I need to provide two other deputies. I have two more schools that I will need to fill positions that will go towards school safety.”

Overall, Dance said things are going well at the sheriff’s office.  

“I’m very pleased with where we are at and I think our deputies understand my position and my vision as it relates to the community because we are a part of this community; this is where we live, work and play. We want our community to be on board with us and we want to be on board with our community.”

Greenville Fire-Rescue

For the past three years, officials have been working on achieving international accreditation for the department, and Fire-Rescue Chief Eric Griffin said department officials plan to sit before the commission in March in California.

The accreditation body is the Center for Public Safety Excellence’s Commission on Fire Accreditation International.

Griffin said that receiving the credential is highly coveted as only 10 percent of fire departments have the credential nationwide.

As part of the credentialing process, agencies are evaluated in 10 categories including: governance and administration; assessment and planning; goals and objectives; financial resources; programs; physical resources; human resources; training and competency; essential resources; and external systems relationship.

“That’s a pretty huge project where we’ve been looking at all of our policies and procedures, making sure we are benchmarking yourself against cities really throughout the world,” Griffin said. 

“It sets you as an elite department and we had to look at all of our policies, all of our data, our equipment, our stations, making sure we compare that to national benchmarks and we were meeting those benchmarks.”

The fire department also did a self-assessment consisting of more than 243 objectives to make sure the it meets all the standards.

“It’s a huge deal and it’s probably one of the biggest things we’ve ever done.”

Other projects the department is working on include improving its internal policies that were reviewed last year by a firm hired by the city, improve recruitment and retention of firefighters and improve its insurance rating.

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

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Crime and Rescue

March 18, 2019

Greenville Fire-Rescue responded to more than 414 fire and EMS calls from March 7-13. Following is a breakdown:

FIRE CALLS

March 7

■ 12:54 a.m. — motor vehicle accident with injuries at 701 S.W. Greenville Blvd. Cleared 1:56 a.m.

■ 3:31 a.m. — unintentional alarm system activation at…

March 17, 2019

Police seized a weapon and arrested a 24-year-old Winterville woman after a reported assault involving a handgun on East 14th Street, according to a case report released on Friday.

The incident occurred about 2:15 p.m. and was reported about 3 p.m. by a 23-year-old Greenville man. The report did…

March 17, 2019

A Greenville man was charged with driving while impaired after he ran off the road and crashed into a tree according to a State Highway Patrol crash report and Pitt County Court records.  

The crash took place on March 9 at 1:32 a.m. near O’Farrell Avenue and Old River Road.…

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March 17, 2019

The following people were indicted on felony charges on Feb. 25, 2019, by a Pitt County grand jury. All information, including addresses, is from court records:

■ John Thomas Barber, 42, 1545 Bedford Road, Rocky Mount, habitual felon for Sept. 5, 2017, offense.

■ Chauncey Delano Bell aka…

March 15, 2019

Greenville Fire-Rescue has been awarded accreditation status from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, department officials announced on Thursday.

According to a news release from the department, the accreditation “recognizes best practices and self-accountability and validates…

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March 15, 2019

NASHVILLE — A missing Nash County mother was slain and her body dumped along a rural road in Edgecombe County, authorities have confirmed.

“Definitely, there is a killer on the loose,” Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said at a Wednesday night press conference.

Diana Alejandra Keel,…

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March 15, 2019

Nearly 370 people died in North Carolina due to alcohol related crashes in 2017 — a statistic government officials and law enforcement agencies are trying to change.  

That’s why the state’s Booze It and Lose It campaign brought its BAT mobile to Greenville on Thursday…

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March 15, 2019

A Greenville man was one of two people arrested on Tuesday in connection with a 2017 robbery in which three people were killed.

Lenoir County deputies said Jaleik Pridgen of Greenville and Brianna Wooten of Kinston both were charged with accessory after the fact to a homicide.…

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March 14, 2019

Heavy smoke and flames damaged a home on South Library Street on Wednesday afternoon, displacing some East Carolina University students, Greenville Fire-Rescue officials said on Thursday. 

Twenty-one firefighters, along with members of the Greenville Police Department, responded a…

031519Fire

March 14, 2019

Authorities believe a body discovered on Tuesday in Edgecombe County is that of a missing Nash County woman.

Diana Alejandra Keel, 38, of Nashville was reported missing by her husband Friday.

The body belongs to a Hispanic female and appears to have been dead for about five days, said Nash County…

Diana Keel
277 stories in Crime and Rescue. Viewing 1 through 10.
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