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