Letter: Where’s the public safety action plan?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The mayor pitches from Esther Manheimer and Kim Roney should lead voters to conclude Esther is the best choice on the ballot for mayor. But neither has a sufficiently functional public safety and public health strategy.

I was the one on the 2022 primary ballot to come up with the Asheville-Buncombe Public Safety Action Plan and WNC Counter IMF (Illegally Manufactured Fentanyl) Task Force ideas. Also, I was one of the few people on the primary ballot not already on Council to have participated in a multitude of Public Safety Committee meetings.

Public safety and public health have correlation around IMF. Whether locally, statewide, nationally and even globally, there needs to be a fresh stance against issues like IMF. With the city manager on board, the mayor of Asheville must lead those difficult policy directions as part of the WNC Counter IMF Task Force within the PSAP — a task force which unfortunately does not yet exist.

It can seem Asheville public safety is hopelessly in free fall. At the Buncombe County government level, the Citizen Times story “What Will Buncombe Do With $2.25M in Federal Grants to Help Victims, Reduce Crime?” reveals one chunk of the larger strategy performance picture. More resources without strategy that apprehends the true nature of the challenge won’t get the public safety and public health job done — whether it’s IMF or related solutions like America’s TBD National Health Service.

Let’s all surface the truth.

— Grant Millin
Strategy innovator


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9 thoughts on “Letter: Where’s the public safety action plan?

  1. Grant Milli

    If it seems like the GOP has command of crime issues and Democrats are better at issues like public health and digging into ‘root causes’ of crime; that kind of ‘bipolar’ national strategic thinking will just help the IMF (Illegally Manufactured Fentanyl) crisis explode. This midterm election cycle, just like everything around the January 6 Insurrection, can’t be recycled in 2024 as to unethical behaviors and outright sabotage from Ultra Conservatives. A fresh, more ethical leadership pipeline needs to be nurtured. And it’s great if a whole lot of minds end up changing over the next years as to Ultra Conservative and Ultra Progressive mindsets… and there’s some actual desirable outcomes about crime, public health, and ‘root causes’.

    But IMF is especially sabotaging America’s Youth right now. It should not be labeled Ultra Conservative thinking to accept that the US Government — especially including very high-volume IMF marketplaces like Asheville and City of Asheville Leadership — is going to have to act decisively after this election.

    Here’s some additional points for now. The Asheville-Buncombe Public Safety Action Plan would definitely help put things in context and would need support. I expect to lead as the project manager… with support:

    1) Buncombe County Government recently revealed the large number of recent overall overdose deaths. The IMF deaths are the main load of those deaths. State of North Carolina is still promoting an ‘opioid crisis’ where pharmaceutical opioids are the main challenge. City of Asheville seems unable to clearly articulate anything except a generalized set of harm reduction initiatives. The role of Transnational Organized Crime is obfuscated.

    Gov. Cooper, NC AG Josh Stein, and NC DHHS all get to be accountable. But the GOP just screaming about crime is very unlikely to produce just, ethical, and decisive outcomes.

    2a) COA council is dissolving the Public Safety Committee on 11/15. They claim the opposite: the PSC is being expanded. What’s dissolving is public safety mission. The changes go into effect January 2023.


    2b) There is no forum to dialogue with COA Leadership in advance on these really unstudied PSC changes. The council Boards and Commissions Committee will be meeting before the council vote; but at 1 PM on November 15. There’s no chance of gaining public momentum around at least one alternative strategy.

    2c) I have shared that alternative with local media and will do so again next week.

    3a) America’s National Health service isn’t ready; obviously. I developed a documentary on the War on Drugs years ago and uncovered this book:


    The Fix includes how Nixon of all people looked into a national large-scale and long-term residential SUD treatment program. Of course, Reagan doubled down on cutting those with SUD, mental health, and other disabilities loose with a fractured and weak social safety net. Homelessness rose dramatically during and after the Reagan Administration.

    3b) Understanding the Vaya Health and HCA roles in the IMF crisis is part of the public safety action plan. Where is the Buncombe County public health officer in all this?

    4) Public Services Announcement Challenge for local leaders:

    PSAs are actually proved by the National Institutes of Health to have an impact of public health issues. The old ‘This is your brain on drugs’ ads and the Nancy Reagan message of ‘Just say no’ were not effective on their own.

    Gov. Cooper doing a PSA where he demands IMF traffickers stop; and then another where he asks IMF users to stop, would be radically different from the current muddled message from State of North Carolina, local government, as most certainly the US Government as a whole. If the rest of the public engagement strategy is just about stigmatization and draconian threats, that more failure. Saving way more of America’s youth from this deadly form of profiteering is worth America getting on the same page after all these years of increasing dysfunction and outright sabotage.

    Finally, when the people of Asheville and Buncombe learn how much money gets made from the IMF market as to manufacturing, distribution, and final sale to users, that should be an ugly moment of truth surfacing. All kinds of people do all kinds of things for money. I guess we can have ‘whataboutism’ conversations on all the unethical ways money gets made. NPR just did a story about all the variables in understanding what people really mean by crime.

    But leaders have to make hard calls on public safety and public health. Now is the time to see the Asheville-Buncombe Public Safety Action Plan. An even-handed, multidimensional set of activities that lead to better outcomes is great. But in 90 days the first iteration of that action plan needs to be out to the public and results start happening. It may not be perfectly just for all stakeholders. And it gets to be a zero-sum game as to who crime victims are and who is profiting from this deadly form of criminality.

  2. Curious

    Hard to get through Mr. Millin’s verbiage to understand clearly what he is advocating. My main take-away: ” We Need a Plan!”
    And is the title Strategy Innovator (with a capital I) an earned degree? Self-bestowed?

      • Grant Millin

        And I have two business masters degrees and have taken several MBA courses; including an A in a course called Managing R&D Activities. I also developed my own BA at UNCA on topics which help define who I am.

        If regular people don’t feel like they can work with strategy and innovation in the world around us — and also as to manifesting personal outcomes — then a related degree won’t help.

        I am not personally responsible for producing our public safety action plan. But I asked about one… for the sake of all stakeholders.

  3. Shultz!

    Strategy Innovator? Yikes. You’d get farther with Concerned Citizen or similar – the former just screams bull-hockey & is a turn off. Let your words show your expertise, not your title. Speaking of words, I see you are quite passionate about your mission, and that’s wonderful! Hats off to you. Take note of the comments about the writing style & try to simplify a bit for us cretins – might help get your points across a little better as well. Cheers & go get ’em!

    • Grant Millin

      I am an Expert Citizen too, Anonymous Opinion.

      Actually, the combination of strategy and innovation is a powerful one throughout history and is what shapes civilization and the future. Criteria like ‘bull-hockey‘ and ‘turn-off’ are not especially meaningful.

      I would like to see someone write about why a democracy powered by anonymity is no democracy.

  4. Grant Millin

    Earlier today I shared the Tacoma Police Department Violent Crime Reduction Plan with City of Asheville (COA) Leadership:


    President Biden’s Safer America Plan


    The idea of a municipality launching into a massive transformation of its public safety strategy like COA is on November 15, and as has been the attempt for a few years now at city hall, should not be embraced without evidence. There’s actual research behind the Tacoma plan; and President Biden’s Safer America Plan is what our nation is up to. Sort of difficult to ignore at the municipal level; unless there’s some contrary Ethical Logic.

    The Asheville Ideas Festival was weird because UNCA and the event backers were trying to copy the Aspen Ideas Festival. The only major revelation with the Asheville Ideas Festival that the paid pundits shared was that American Liberal Democracy is awesome and worth hanging on to.

    I think Asheville’s city hall seems like a place where high value, highly ethical ideas flourish and there are dynamic, substantive intellectual capital exchanges in many, many large-scale COA public engagement forums across the city because COA Leadership is at optimum diversity and intelligence levels. But looks may be deceiving.

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