– Turning the clock back over the last few months revealed a spike in crime throughout Asheville.
• August 2 – After assaulting a driver, stealing his car and running the driver over while trying to leave the scene, Michael Lynn Hayes, Jr. was charged.
• July 29 – Angela Elaine Hough was charged and arrested after calls to 9-1-1 reporting a woman shooting a gun into the air on Granada Street.
• July 29 – A mother, seven-year-old child, and infant were assaulted and robbed by two armed males during a mid-day home invasion.
• July 28 – A homeowner returned home to find Nathan Thomas Miller broke into his home and was still inside with a bag full of items he intended to steal.
• July 28 – An 18-year-old woman with two non-life-threatening gunshot wounds was transported to Mission Hospital.
• July 26 – After reports of gunshots on Deaverview Road, officers responded and located a car that had 14 bullet holes. The bullet holes are possibly from a .223 rifle. No shell casings were located and no individuals reported being shot. All the above incidents happened within about a week’s period and Asheville Police Department (APD) responded to all of them. APD’s Christina Hallingse, the department’s public information officer, is getting a workout sending these press releases announcing these incidents.
To give you an idea of how Hallingse’s press releases have increased over the last six months, the Tribune received one email in February, none in March, two in April, two in May, 11 in June and 23 in July. Wow!
I believe one of two things might be going on. Crime is on the rise in Asheville. This comes on the heels of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office releasing mid-year numbers showing crime is down. We’re looking into that to make sure those numbers are correct.
Or, APD has increased its press releases in the wake of their June 2nd announcement saying:
“Asheville Police Department (APD) has lost 84 officers since January 1, 2020. As a result of the staffing crisis, several changes in officer response will go into effect immediately in order to improve response times for emergency calls made to 9-1-1.
APD officers will no longer respond to the following types of crimes:
• Theft under $1,000 where there is no suspect information (this does not include stolen vehicles or guns)
• Theft from a vehicle where there is no suspect information
• Minimal damage and/or graffiti to property where there is no suspect information
• Non-life threatening harassing phone calls (does not include incidents that are related to domestic violence and/or stalking)
• Fraud, scams, or identity theft
• Simple assaults that are reported after they have occurred
• Reports that do not require immediate police actions and/or enforcement (information only reports)
• Funeral escorts
• Lost/found property
• Trespassing where the property owner does not want to press charges
• Noise complaints made during normal business hours and after-hours may have a significant delay in response.”
In either case, the news from Asheville’s police force isn’t good and there’s no one to blame but the Asheville City Council. That’s right, they are to blame for the loss of officers, rise in crime and the current low morale of the officers.
Who can blame the department’s officers for their low self-esteem about their jobs after being defunded and denounced by members of the council, the leadership of Asheville and by their own chief who ordered them to take a knee at last year’s riots?
With the restaffing of the police, at least a year out, things can only get worse for the residents of Asheville when it comes to crime. I used to say Atlanta was a good place to be from…away from, but now I think I can say the same for the City of Asheville.