The Wilmington police chief sees a need for new crime fighting methods

Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email
Posted by Kristy Ondo - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wilmington's police chief is looking for new ways to fight crime, because the current methods do not have a long-term impact on the problem.

"We know that what we've done over the past 30 years doesn't work," said Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous.  "Maybe the answer is not putting them in prison."

Tuesday night, Evangelous asked Wilmington city council to apply for a grant for a new gang intervention program.

Under the program, the police department and sheriff's office would meet with repeat offenders and offer them crime-free options including jobs with willing employers.

"We have a police department that realizes that enforcement is on the back end of a criminal act and that it's a much better undertaking and investment in our community to go at the problem before it becomes an issue," said Wayne Lofton, the President of Community Boys and Girls Club.

While the Boys and Girls Club tries to teach kids early about staying away from gangs and violence, Chief Evangelous says if they become dependent on crime, the cycle is hard to break.

"We see these kids over and over again, committing, recommitting," said Evangelous.  "They go to prison for a while. They come back out. They're worse than they were before. What have we got to lose?"

Evangelous says the program has had impressive results in other cities, dropping the crime rate in High Point, North Carolina by more than 30%.

The grant money would fund the program for a year. Then, according to Evangelous, the city can foot the bill, because the dramatic reduction in crime will be worth the investment.