Letter: Asheville should try Japan’s policing approach

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Asheville prides itself on its creativity. City movers and shakers advertise this awesome asset to attract visitors and new residents to invest and spend their dollars here. But time and again, these same so-called leaders refuse to embrace creativity to solve our city’s challenges. Instead, they shrug and hire out-of-state consultants to dazzle us with pie charts and PowerPoint promises even if these “experts” have never solved any problems in the cities they call home.

Everyone knows that we need more police and, as beautiful as our area is, the truth is that salaries and support for our officers must be much higher if we’re to attract individuals who will want to plant their roots deep in our town. I spent years recruiting international educators and must say that the committed police officers (much like teachers) who haven’t yet fled our community should not be maligned or vilified due to dwindling numbers; officers who remain should be revered — assuming, of course, that they haven’t embezzled money or beaten any good citizens about the head.

Asheville deserves (and has the resources to fund) a highly visible police force positioned throughout our downtown, as well as in and around parks and hotspots known for crime. The Asheville Police Department, with the support of local business owners (and with significant financing from our wealthy Tourism Development Authority), should commit a few million dollars each year to build and maintain a koban-style auxiliary force as used in Japan.

The size, terrain and general layout of Asheville make our city an ideal candidate for such an endeavor. Koban policing puts beat cops on the ground where they interact and get to know residents, visitors and even the unhoused in an effort to keep a city running smoothly, while anticipating and mitigating crime. The koban style of policing has proved to build bonds of trust between local communities and those who serve and protect — the very things we the people need most if we’re to get our city back on track.

To learn more about koban policing, please see the following link: [avl.mx/ch0].

— Robert McGee


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2 thoughts on “Letter: Asheville should try Japan’s policing approach

  1. kw

    From an earlier Xpress article…2021?

    Isley said homelessness was “a bit of a sticky wicket for Asheville” but suggested that a street ambassador program, similar to existing initiatives in Washington and Tampa Bay, Fla., might make a difference. Those ambassadors, she said, could both assist unhoused people with community resources and help tourists find their way around town.

    In the short term, Isley continued, a pilot ambassador program might be funded in partnership with Asheville or Buncombe County using money those governments will receive through the federal American Rescue Plan. As previously reported by Xpress, Buncombe County alone is slated to receive over $51 million in relief funds, which among other uses can be spent on “aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.”

    Once that money is gone, Isley said permanent funding might come from a downtown business improvement district. Under that scheme, businesses would pay an additional tax to support downtown-specific services such as the ambassador program. “Now is not the time to approach local businesses to ask them for a give,” Isley added in acknowledgement of the pandemic’s lingering effects. But she said a successful pilot could set the stage for a BID in the near future.

  2. Brenda Willis

    Asheville needs help in many ways. Homeless, crime, WAT TOO LIBERAL!!! Native Ashevilleions and other surrounding areas stay away from downtown!!! I know I do. The past Asheville has been destroyed!

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