Community engagement and involvement played a huge part in a recent investigation into several break-ins in an Asheville community. See this press release from the APD on how initiatives like community policing and “Changing Together” have brought neighbors and police together to fight crime in communities:
On September 2, 2013, three residents of the Southside community of Asheville experienced breaking and entering into their homes. These crimes occurred during the day and while the victims were out of their homes. Asheville Police officers assigned to the Southside community noted the similarities between these three incidents and began to investigate them as being related. While the officers were doing so, however, the numbers of similar cases in that same community began to grow.
The officers were able to recover physical evidence left by one of the offenders that resulted in revealing his identity. Through these same officers having a working knowledge of their beat, the suspect was taken into custody. Further research into this person’s known associates revealed a number of other offenders that were subsequently implicated in the string of crimes.
At the same time, one of the officers recognized the need of the Asheville Police Department to involve the members of the community in the investigation. The purpose of this need was to provide the citizens with ideas and methods to protect and secure their homes against future crimes of opportunity, and also to empower them to work alongside the officers working toward making their community a safer place to work and live. Dozens of community members attended the meeting, during which these cases and other issues affecting the community were discussed.
As the investigation continued, community support led to the identification of the home in which the spoils of these crimes were being kept. The collaboration between the community members and the APD led to the ability of the officers to receive a search warrant for this home. A subsequent search led to the seizure of multiple items of stolen property, including a firearm taken during one of the early breaking and entering cases. In all, the investigation involved 17 separate incidents and resulted in excess of 30 felony charges being levied against nine offenders.
The successful resolution of the incidents is the direct result of a positive collaboration between community members, stakeholders (Changing Together, Southside Community Advisory Board), and patrol officers within the Asheville Police Department. Through dedicated and ongoing efforts such as these, the philosophy known commonly as community policing was put into practice and is shown to be an effective method of addressing crime.
For more information about how the APD interacts with communities as well as ways to report criminal activity to officers, click here.