Vernell Jones, representing the residents of Northside, asked town officials Monday night to step up law enforcement efforts in the area, which is located north of Rosemary Street near the Carrboro border. "Our community is not safe for our children or the residents," Jones said, adding that the neighborhood is a center for drug activities.
Mayor Rosemary Waldorf responded at the meeting by asking town officials to investigate the level and effectiveness of police surveillance in the area.
Her request was referred to Town Manager Cal Horton.
But Horton said Tuesday that officials have not had time yet to act on the request. Horton said officials also would look into the problem of repeat offenders.
"I think the mayor correctly noted that one of the difficulties the police face is arresting people over and over again," Horton said.
But some officials maintain the area is already heavily patrolled. "Police efforts in the area are already above and beyond the norm," Chapel Hill police spokeswoman Jane Cousins said.
Cousins said police have identified drugs as a problem in the Northside neighborhood.
Lt. Brian Curran said he runs a special Northside Task Force that hit the streets less than a month ago.
The force has six officers with plans to add two more. As with any new police program, it will soon undergo evaluation for effectiveness.
Curran said he thinks police presence has made a difference. "It hasn't made the problem go away, but the goal is to be out there," Curran said.
There are also Alcohol Law Enforcement substations on Craig and Graham streets, and at least two patrol cars regularly survey the area.
Community-oriented police work with property owners to try to get better neighbors into the area, Curran said.
Town Council member Jim Ward said he agreed with Waldorf and stressed the need to continue efforts in the neighborhood.
Ward also said the police need to look for ways to combat the problems more effectively.
"No neighborhood in Chapel Hill should feel under attack," Ward said.
Though residents say they have voiced concern for years, Ward said the problem never has been completely resolved. "Sometimes the problem seems to be going pro and sometimes it seems like we've never begun," Ward said.
Town Council member Pat Evans said the council has been working on the crime problem continuously. "If they, as residents, are concerned, then maybe we need more help or a different strategy."
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