Wilmington and NHC leaders agree to crank up patrol units downtown

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT)- A crackdown on crime is one of the leading goals for leaders in Wilmington and New Hanover County.

Statistics have shown most of the problems with crime downtown happen right after the bars close and drunk customers flood the streets. The Wilmington Police Department already has a five-officer unit patrolling patrol the downtown business district, but authorities are hoping to crank up enforcement even more.

For most government decisions the leading question at hand seems to be money, but when it comes to slashing crime downtown and drunk drivers, the cost is secondary.

"That's where the largest concentration of bars are so you have a lot of folks who are down there drinking having a good time, the bars get let out and you have a lot of folks on the street at that point," said New Hanover County Commissioner Chairman Jonathan Barfield.

Five police officers patrol the business district and now the WPD wants to double that number. It would cost about $300,000, but at a special meeting Wednesday, the county and city started talking about splitting the cost and getting money from ABC proceeds.

The county is also asking for help from the colleges.

"Try to coordinate and work with them better to see if we can have tougher standards so that they'll have a penalty on campus if someone comes in with a fake id or gets a DUI downtown as well," said Barfield.

Downtown Wilmington has one of the largest concentrations of ABC permits in the state and so far two police officers have been given the authority to enter private establishments downtown to enforce ABC regulations.

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