SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Throughout the past few years, the Salisbury Police Department has made it their priority to combat rising crime rates.
In fact, in 2019 when the city was granted the funds for their Crime Intervention Center, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd cited a climbing number of homicides and aggravated assaults as part of the need for the facility.
Since the center opened in 2021, the city has experienced a steady decline in violent crimes. According to the police department, there were 10 homicides by this time in 2021, six in 2022, and so far in 2023, there’s only been one.
That homicide happened on Sunday when police say 35-year-old Nohemy Hernandez-Laines was found dead in her car outside a home on Park Avenue, with what appeared to be wounds from an apparent assault.
The crime center is used to track misconduct in real time using cameras, as well as serve as a meeting place for regional law enforcement officers to strategize.
“We meet in this room every two weeks with our division heads, and we look at crime stats,” said Chief PJ Smith. “We look at trends. We look at people. We’re not looking for short, quick, throwing cops in certain areas and fixing it temporarily. We’re looking at long-term solutions.”
Unfortunately, with a decrease in violence has come an increase in property crimes, like thefts from motor vehicles.
According to department data, there’s been 999 property crimes in Salisbury so far this year, compared to 881 such crimes at this time last year.
“Vehicle break-ins are huge, and that’s why we push our ‘lock it, take it, or lose it’ campaign,” said Smith.
The department is planning to continue their “Cultivating Community Conversations” series throughout the city next year, to hear directly from residents about their concerns and to improve community relationships.
They also say they’re also keeping a close eye on changing crime trends, such as the shift of violent crime out of the west end of Salisbury and into other areas of the city.
“Part of our problem-oriented policing approach is you look at the where, but now we’re looking at the why,” Smith said. “We’re also looking at the who, and we’re trying to get out in front of it.”