Seal_of_Asheville,_North_Carolina

City budget and policing on tap for May 9 session of Asheville Council

If you want to attend Asheville City Council’s May 9 meeting, arrive early. Between a response from the Police Department to a recent report on racial disparities in policing to the first presentation of the city manager’s proposed budget for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, there’s a lot on the agenda that could be of interest to a variety of city residents and advocates.

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Asheville traffic stop data show racial inequities

Data reported to the State Bureau of Investigation by the Asheville Police Department reveal significant racial disparities in traffic stops, an attorney for the Southern Coalition of Social Justice told Asheville City Council on April 24. And even though the data are disturbing, they may not tell the full story: An analysis revealed an apparent failure to report data for 58 percent of audited traffic stops, despite a state law requires police departments to provide demographic data for all stops.

Peer pressure: Kevin Mahoney and Geena Hammond, both with the nonprofit Sunrise Community, will lend their expertise to a new diversion program the Buncombe County district attorney is rolling out that’s aimed at prioritizing treatment over convictions.

Cure for pain: Preventing opioid-related deaths

Buncombe County, like many places across the country, is in the throes of an opioid epidemic, many local sources say. Despite law enforcement efforts and increased awareness of overprescribing, the last few years have seen a dramatic rise in opioid-related overdoses and deaths. Between 2005 and 2014, the county had 110 homicides, according to the […]

DEFENSIVE MANEUVERS: Asheville Police Department personnel at Basic Law Enforcement Training class, working on self-defense and subject control techniques. While this sort of training is vital to police work, a new paradigm is emerging — reflected in evolving departmental policy — that emphasizes de-escalation and avoiding physical confrontation when responding to volatile situations. Photo courtesy of APD

Proposed APD policy favors de-escalation over force

A proposed Asheville Police Department policy hashed out with substantial citizen input could mark a change in the way officers handle volatile situations, proponents say. If the policy is adopted as expected, officers will have to explain how they approached the situation and what they did to try to calm things down before resorting to […]

District Attorney Todd Williams points out "substance consistent with blood" on the stock of the rifle recovered where Jerry Williams was mortally shot. Photo by Able Allen

DA Todd Williams to file no charges in fatal police shooting of Jai “Jerry” Williams

No charges will be filed against Asheville Police Department Sgt. Tyler Radford for shooting and killing local man Jai Lateef Solveig (Jerry) Williams. Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams says an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation has revealed that Radford acted lawfully and justifiably in self defense.

SOCIAL SOLUTIONS: Senior Police Officer Doug Sheehan, along with others members of the Asheville Police Department Housing Unit, attend a Johnston Elementary School ice cream social. Local officers devote time and energy to socializing and trying to build relationships in the face of broad disillusionment in black communities. Photo courtesy of APD

Culture clash: Facing up to Asheville’s troubled police-community relations

The task of establishing and/or re-establishing trust between vulnerable communities — especially people of color — and the Asheville Police Department will be a challenging one. And especially in the wake of controversial police use of force over the summer, there is vocal criticism of the department. But the way Chief Tammy Hooper sees it, the APD must rise to that challenge.

REACHING OUT: James Lee is working with the Racial Justice Coalition to build a bridge by which vulnerable communities can have input on they way they are policed. The formation of an unprecedented community policy work group seems to be a step in that direction. Lee initially contacted chief Hooper and other city leaders about putting together a work group. Photo by Able Allen

Asheville groups seek common ground on city police Use of Force policy

While July was marked by a series of protests, rallies and demands for changes to the APD’s approach to policing in the city’s marginalized communities — especially its 11 public housing neighborhoods — August saw a shift in tone, with the outline of a collaborative process arising out of discussions among the APD, City Council and a wide range of community groups convened by the Racial Justice Coalition.