Community meeting focuses on crime prevention

Jul. 23, 2014 @ 05:16 PM

Less than an hour after the capture of a suspect who barricaded himself inside a Thomasville residence for most of Tuesday afternoon, Thomasville Police Chief Jeff Insley conducted a community meeting at Emmanuel Baptist Church to discuss an area spike in violent crime.

The standoff on Reid Street is the most recent in a string of dangerous incidents during the month of July that include a homicide and a home invasion.

“We wanted to have community meetings in different areas around town to have open communication, to get feedback from you folks, especially in light of things that have been going on recently,” Insley said to those gathered inside the church. “Compared to a particular period, crime is going down, but we’re still seeing it. The problem is some of the crimes we’re having are becoming more violent. That’s a problem.”

Insley addressed concerns about the standoff on Reid Street and publicly thanked those on hand who assisted in the arrests of suspects in the standoff and a homicide committed on Unity Street. He believes continued cooperation from concerned citizens will result in the capture of those responsible for beating and robbing a 90-year old less than a mile from where the homicide was committed.

“Because people called, because people were concerned, we were able to clear up that homicide in 48 hours,” Insley said. “We haven’t gotten the home invasion, but we’re hoping to bring that to a close soon. I wish I could stand up here and tell you I’ve got the answers to fix everything. Folks, I don’t, but together we can fix everything.”

Besides the violent crimes committed recently, Insley explained a pattern he has seen in burglary. Rather than targeting residences, criminals appear more inclined to steal from commercial businesses.

He also touched on Thomasville’s growing drug problem, specifically heroin.

“When I first started 28 years ago, heroin was going out. I didn’t think I would see it anymore,” Insley said. “Folks, heroin is strong, and it’s strong here. Last year, we investigated 31 overdoses the entire year. At the end of June, we’re already at 33. That is staggering.”

P. Michael McNair, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, opened the meeting by detailing the circumstances that prompted his church to volunteer to host the meeting. He wanted to reassure the community that Thomasville will continue to be a safe place to live, in spite of the recent spike in crime.

One member of his congregation, in particular, gained his attention.

“We were just talking about different things that were happening in our community,” McNair said. “One of my senior men made the comment that he was afraid to go home. This is a man that has lived in this community for over 60 years. I sat there as a pastor, and there was a burning on my heart. I have to do something to bring the community together.”

McNair said he intends to invite the community back to Emmanuel for another meeting in October or November.

Within the span of 10 days and a one-mile radius of each other, the following incidents have residents fearful of violent crime in Thomasville.

 

  •  A 90-year-old woman was beaten and robbed July 12 during a home invasion. Police canvassed the neighborhood surrounding Thomasville High School, located on Unity Street, but were unable to make an arrest.

     

  •  A man was shot at the corner of Smith and Unity streets June 15. Thomasville police arrested four suspects in connection with the homicide.

     

  • A Lexington man was arrested Tuesday following a three-hour standoff that ensued after he barricaded himself in a home in the 400 block of Reid Street. The man is accused of assaulting a female in Charlotte and in Thomasville.

Anyone with information on the home invasion is asked to call Thomasville Police at 336-475-7755 or Crime Stoppers at 336-476-8477.

 

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.