I just read an editorial in the AC-T that has sent me into orbit.
For those of you not familiar with the story so far, a briefing is in order:
There is an Asheville City Council named Dr. Carl Mumpower who has been active in attempting to deal with the very large drug problem in Asheville, NC. Most of it seems to be centered, as it is nation-wide, around the Public Housing Projects. He has been involved with prevention programs, etc. and has been observing the open-air drug markets, and reporting them. Until recently, he has been riding with law enforcement. Asheville has a new Mayor, Terry Bellamy, and a new Police Chief, Bill Hogan. He is no longer allowed to ride with law enforcement.
He made an appearance on a local talk show, "Take A Stand with Matt Mittan."
Right Click to download MP3.
Hour One Topics: Jim Black cocky to the finish, New taxes and fees to pay for what the lottery didn't deliver, APD reports on drug arrests and more. Listen live weekdays 3pm-6pm at mattcave.us
Hour Two Topics: Terror links in NC and more on drugs in Asheville. Guest: Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower. Listen live weekdays 3pm-6pm at mattcave.us
Hour Three Guest: Carl Munpower. Listen live weekdays 3pm-6pm at mattcave.us
Here is the end of that editorial:
What the power structure, including the AC-T fears most is negative publicity for fear of negatively impacting the Tourist Industry. My Post Title is a bit over the top, but true. In trying to misdirect people to ancillary issues, and muzzle Dr. Mumpower, they enable the drug dealers to keep on dealing drugs in Asheville, NC.
Mumpower deserves praise and appreciation for his unrelenting crusade against them. He organized and chairs the Asheville-Buncombe Drug Commission, an impressive group of community leaders dedicated to “preventing and addressing the causes and consequences of hard drugs in our community.” He spends his free time holding “community days” in public housing, giving out basketballs, cleaning up litter and other such activities.
It is, however, possible to fault his conclusions about who to blame for the problem. Mumpower wants to blame council and the Asheville Police Department for not doing enough to combat drugs.
However, statistics released by the department earlier this week showed that Asheville police made 127 drug arrests per 10,000 in population in 2005, the highest drug arrest rate among any of the state’s other 10 largest cities. Mumpower’s reaction: It simply shows “we’re failing a little less.”
In October 2004, Police Chief Bill Hogan created a dedicated Drug Suppression Unit.
Since that time felony drug arrests have increased 40 percent.
These are not statistics from a department that is “complacent,” as Mumpower has charged.
No matter how many arrests police make, their efforts will have little deterrent value if drug dealers see the police as more of a nuisance than a real threat to their livelihood. Many of those arrested for drug crimes are bonded out and back on the street before the arresting officers can complete the paperwork, criminal justice officials say.
Once they come to court, short sentences for drug felonies under structured sentencing, a shortage of prison beds and an under-funded court system conspire to put drug dealers back in circulation in a matter of weeks or months, said District Attorney Ron Moore.
Mumpower’s efforts are to be commended because they keep the problem before the public and encourage us to continue trying to find solutions.
But overcoming the scourge of drugs will take more than increasing the number of police officers in public housing, where about 41 percent of drug arrests are made.
That means the other 59 percent are made in other neighborhoods throughout the city.
Societal ills such as poverty, school dropouts and dysfunctional families contribute to the problem.
From a law enforcement standpoint, Mumpower needs to look at the big picture and direct more of his efforts toward state lawmakers, who control the sentencing structure and the purse strings for the court system.
I would like to see a hundred people doing what the Councilman is doing...but with a twist.
Concerned Citizens should show up, armed with video cameras and record the drug trade, then share that information with the world via video sharing sites like You tube. Setting up an account is easy, and free. Youtube will enable us to side-step the Drug-Culture friendly Asheville Citizen Times and WLOS-TV News.
If people force this issue front and center, more resources will be allocated to deal with it, most especially if we threaten their coveted touri$t dollar$.