Elected leaders offer suggestions to aid city, county
Four members each of the Henderson City Council and Vance County Commission agreed Community Watch needed more people to be involved.
The Henderson-Vance Community Watch Association hosted the city and county leaders Thursday in the auditorium of Maria Parham Medical Center for a forum discussion on partnering for safer neighborhoods.
The forum attracted about 50, including participants, organizers and law enforcement.
Among the questions elected leaders responded to were involvement in the fight against crime, education and the area economy. Mike Rainey, Mike Inscoe, Vernon Brown and Sara Coffey appeared from the council, and Tommy Hester, Gordon Wilder, Archie Taylor and Dan Brummitt from the commissioners.
Rainey said speaking up is vital to helping law enforcement against crime.
“We need more people to be involved,” Rainey said. “I wish more people had come out.”
Rainey, in answer to a question about the importance of community involvement, said a lack of intentional engagement like coming out to a Community Watch meeting translates into what police too often encounter at a crime scene: a reluctance to help solve a crime.
“They may fear retaliation,” Rainey said. “People often are afraid to get involved. Officers are finding people reluctant to say what they saw.
“If there’s suspicious activity, if you see something, speak up, call it in,” Rainey said. “I think that having events like this certainly helps.”
Commissioner Dan Brummitt echoed Rainey’s remarks.
“You people here are doing what needs to be done,” Brummitt said. “A tough part about a question like this is we’re preaching to the choir. It comes back to people working together. You have to pay attention. You have to be nosy.”
Commissioner Tommy Hester extended that observation to his own about the several dozen who came out on Thursday evening, indicating their likely average age that approximated his own.
“We need more young people involved,” he said.
Billy Ford said he is very active with Crime Stoppers. Ford said that Crime Stoppers has recognized Community Watch organizers and members in the past with awards.
“I am here getting some information to better understand what the Community Watch efforts are,” Ford said.
Invited by Leonard Hight, the board chairman for Community Watch, was his neighbor Eddie Ellington. Ellington said he saw the association as a good opportunity to add to his volunteer efforts with Crime Stoppers.
“They invited me to come,” Ellington said. “It was a good meeting, a real good meeting. Anytime you can get the county and city leaders out like this is a good opportunity.”
The public meeting centered on questions to the forum participants that were written by attendees before the meeting began.
Hester said that with a process beginning to develop a recreation, parks and greenways master plan, Community Watch members may want to voice their ideas to those leading that planning effort.
“Maybe your Community Watch groups would like to be involved with that master plan and have an input in that,” Hester said.
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