Members of the East/Northeast Neighborhood Association addressed their concerns about crime last Thursday at the association’s first meeting of the year.
Winston-Salem Assistant Police Chief David Clayton was on hand at the meeting, held at Hooper Funeral Home, to address residents’ concerns.
The neighborhood association was founded in 2005 by Marva Reid in response to crime in the community.
A current rash of home break-ins brought at least two residents to the meeting. Shirley Spease said robbers have twice entered her home.
“I wanted to hear more about what the police department plans to do,” Spease said about her motivation to attend the meeting.
Reid said crime has improved over the years, but is still an issue.
“It comes in spurts … I want to say it’s gotten better,” she said. “We get a different type of crime; sometimes the reason behind it is still the same. Needless to say, the struggle continues.”
Christa Long, one of the police lieutenants over District 2, which includes East Winston, listened to the residents and jotted down notes. She said public input and cooperation are key to crime prevention.
“We can’t do what we do without them, without their input and telling us what’s going on in the community for us to act,” said Long. “It’s huge to have that relationship with the community.”
Clayton is the commander of the police department’s Support Services Bureau, which coordinates with Neighborhood Watches around the city. He offered common sense crime prevention tips and said that “community driven” neighborhood watches can be the “best form of crime prevention.”
He used Bessie Henderson as an example. Henderson organized a Neighborhood Watch group on Rich Avenue. Clayton said her efforts were responsible for reclaiming the area from the criminal element.
“How many people did it take to turn her community around?” said Clayton. “It starts with one.” He also pointed to Mattie Young, known as the Mother of Cleveland Avenue Homes, whose efforts yielded similar results.
Clayton also fielded questions about the ongoing search for a new police chief to replace the retiring Scott Cunningham. Clayton, a respected WSPD veteran and former City of Winston-Salem Employee of the Year, said he is considering applying for the position himself.
Reid said she has concerns about the City’s use of the Internet to disseminate information about the police chief search. She fears those in her community who lack computers and Internet access will miss out on opportunities to provide input. Reid said she would like candidates for chief to appear at a future association meeting to meet face-to-face with residents.
The East/Northeast Neighborhood Association’s efforts to make its community a better place have been many. Members advocated for the creation of Harambee Park, a City-operated area that has become a sort of community square. The association also sponsors an annual National Night Out crime prevention event, kite days and other family-friendly events.
“(Neighborhood Associations) are the beating heart of the community,” said Reid.
Reid urged her neighbors to get behind the Winston Lake Park Master Plan, which includes many improvements and additions to East Winston parks. She also encouraged them to take part in the next community clean-up event on March 23. A petition against a proposed electricity rate hike by Duke/Progress Energy was also among the meeting’s agenda items, as was information about the law that requires pet owners to clean-up after their animals.
The Association meets at 6 p.m. on the last Thursday of the month. All future meetings will be held at 14th Street Recreation Center. For more information, call Reid at 336-997-2519.