WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – While Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous believes the 90 day cease fire project was a success, he also knows there is still a lot of work to be done.
Friday marked the 90th day of a cease fire initiative requested by the Wilmington Police Department and Boots on the Ground, a community group made up of more than 50 pastors and community leaders.
The group urged gang members and those involved with the recent violence to put down their guns and resolve their disputes sensibly.
The movement stemmed from a high increase in gun violence at the beginning of June. More than 65 shootings were picked up by Shot Spotter technology and at least 20 calls were made in just one weekend.
In all his years with the department, Evangelous he has never seen so many clergy and community members interact with neighborhoods known for gangs and violence at such a high level.
"For the pundits who say that this is fluff – I say to you, get off your fanny and get out in the streets and walk with these reverends who are committing their time and effort to be in our community and make a difference," a heated Evangelous said during the cease fire review Friday morning.
The police chief admits there has been a recent spike in violence as gangs struggle over new leadership now that old leaders are behind bars.
There have been shootings and even a murder during the 90 day cease fire, but some people in the area say they feel more hope for the Port City now than they did in June because they've never seen the community join efforts quite like this and believe all the work will make a difference.
Though the 90 day call for a cease fire has ended, officials say the call for peace and the efforts to end violence will not only continue 365 days a year, but actually increase.
Officials said they plan to add education programs and even change police strategies.