State of Ahoskie

Published 4:38 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Part 3 of a series

AHOSKIE – Michele Garrett, who has held the position of Ahoskie Police Chief for the better part of two months, has unveiled several initiatives that she feels will drastically increase public safety.

Veteran law enforcement officer Michele Garrett rose to the rank of Ahoskie Police Chief in December of last year. She is shown here providing an update regarding public safety in town at a public meeting held Jan. 11. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Garrett was part of the “State of Ahoskie” program held Jan. 11 in the Town Council’s meeting room located in the Ahoskie Fire Department.

She led off her presentation with a few facts: noting there were three murders in Ahoskie last year (with one arrest made while the other two are under investigation). The APD confiscated 42 guns off the streets in 2023.

“We know about the violence, about the gangs, about the shootings. That has made a lot of our citizens uncomfortable,” Garrett said. “Like the mayor said in his comments, the town council approved overtime last year for our department which allows us to saturate these areas where these shootings are occurring. Some arrests have been made in those shootings, but we still have a lot of work to do.

“What bothers me the most is when I hear from our citizens about them sleeping at night on the floor rather than in bed because they fear their house may be shot at,” Garrett continued. “Plus, they’re having their children do their homework sitting on the floor instead of at the table, for the same reason.”

Garrett noted that despite some who are critical of the job that her officers are doing, she defended their work.

“I think our police department does a great job,” Garrett said. “But we can’t do this job alone. We need our citizens involved as added eyes and ears. My goal is the bridge the gap between our department and the community. We’ve got to work together to make Ahoskie a better place to live and for children go back to the playground. We’re pushing to make Ahoskie safe again.”

Garrett noted that the town is currently in the process of added surveillance cameras and license plate readers.

“They will give us extra eyes within our neighborhoods and on our streets,” said the Chief. “Those cameras and license plate readers will help us solve crimes quicker, and hopefully deter crime from taking place here.”

Since taking office, Garrett said one of her priorities is “community policing.”

“Getting back into our neighborhoods and interacting with our citizens and our youth will help us all,” she said. “We want to get back into our schools, we want them to see us, to interact with us. The same holds true with our businesses.”

The Ahoskie Police Department has already instituted a part of that initiative through the implementation of the D.A.R.E. program at the elementary school where students receive information about the dangers of drugs and violent crimes.

Another of Garrett’s initiatives is forming an Advisory Committee consisting of business owners, church officials, educational officials and youth.

This summer, Garrett hopes to have a Citizens Police Academy formed.

“There we will give those attending an idea of how a police department works, learn about the laws we enforce, and why we can’t do certain things,” Garrett noted. “That’s another way to bridge the gap between citizens and the police.”

She added that the Ahoskie Police will use another avenue to connect with the town’s youth by having their officers to volunteer as coaches within the Ahoskie Parks and Recreation Department.

“We need to reach out and connect with our town citizens, to include our children, to show them that yes we do wear a gun and a badge while on duty, but our officers are ordinary people when not on the job,” Garrett stressed.

She wants to implement the “Are You Okay” program, one where Ahoskie Police officers routinely visits or calls to check on the well-being of the town’s elderly citizens.

“We want to serve everybody in Ahoskie, no matter their age or status, with integrity and respect,” Garrett stated.

“We will work with our community to minimize crime and the fear of crime by providing the best public safety services to enhance the quality of life in our town. Our children will feel safe to go to the playground, and our citizens can enjoy living their normal life,” Garrett concluded.

Next in the series: Interim Town Manager Jennifer Bracy addresses the financial health of Ahoskie local government.

 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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