ABC board considering cuts to police funds - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

ABC board considering cuts to police funds

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Funding to Wilmington's Downtown Task Force might be cut. Funding to Wilmington's Downtown Task Force might be cut.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The New Hanover County ABC board are expected to vote whether to gradually decrease funding to Wilmington's Downtown Task Force Tuesday.

Right now the ABC board gives Wilmington's Downtown Task Force $180,000 a year. Members previously talked about fully funding it next year, but possibly cutting it to $120,000 in 2016, and $60,000 in 2017.

In March, there was some confusion about a previous meeting.  Board member and NHC Commissioner Thomas Wolfe said a vote was taken. Wolfe admitted that he had misspoke and explained that no action was taken.

The task force is made up of Wilmington Police and New Hanover County Sheriff's deputies who patrol downtown areas day and night, seven days a week.

Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said that the task force is responsible for a drop in crime downtown, and cutting the funding could jeopardize safety.

According to the city of Wilmington, downtown crime was down 7 percent in 2013. That's the lowest amount in 12 years.

"We've never worked closer than we're working now and there's some great results," Evangelous said. "It's a much safer place, and it's all because of those officers and those deputies working side by side in a cooperative venture and we need to stay the course on this, because it could very easily lapse back to where it was."

Chief Evangelous said he and Sheriff Ed McMahon are committed to keeping officials downtown.

"They're walking, they're on the bicycles, they're in vehicles, just having the mere presence of the officers for our good citizens that is a peace of mind, and then for the criminals it is a deterrent because they know they see them everywhere," McMahon said.

Evangelous and McMahon will be at tomorrow's board meeting to discuss the funding.

ABC board members told us they are open to hearing from both leaders, and if there is a valid case to keep the funding in place, they will consider.

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