Pubdate: Sun, 05 Jun 2005
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Michael Flynn
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Seabees Help Install Security Fence At Deaverview Apartments

WEST ASHEVILLE - Ricky Shook said plenty of drug activity takes place near 
his residence in West Asheville's Deaverview Apartments. He was pleased to 
see a group of volunteers Saturday morning unloading materials to build a 
security fence behind the public housing complex.

"I think it's good," he said. "It will keep the crack dealers from sneaking 
in here, and will put a damper on their business."

Led by about 10 members of a local Seabee unit of the Naval Reserve and 
supporters of the community initiative "For Our Kids...," the volunteers 
plan to install about 400 feet of fencing during the next two or three 
weekends behind a row of apartments where neighboring woods provide cover 
for drug dealers.

Asheville Vice Mayor and For Our Kids founder Carl Mumpower said Deaverview 
Apartments is among the worst areas for drug involvement in the city.

"We want to make it hard on the drug dealers from the outside who use this 
as their playground," he said. "If we stop their escape hatch, we'll 
dramatically reduce the amount of drug activity."

City Council has made some moves toward protecting public housing 
residents. In 2004, members adopted the Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, 
which sent money to cut crime while adding social programs such as tutoring 
for children.

The initiative included: $250,000 for five police officers and equipment, 
$50,000 to expand community policing efforts, $50,000 for a summer youth 
program, $50,000 for an educational tutoring program and $200,000 to 
improve infrastructure in areas that could support affordable housing.

Asheville police pulled out of a drug investigation partnership in December 
2004 that included two other law enforcement agencies so detectives could 
better home in on the city's crack cocaine problem.

The Metropolitan Enforcement Group had four Asheville detectives in its 
12-agent force. Those detectives are now working with the drug suppression 
unit. The benefit for the suppression team is that it is able to get 
through the arresting process much quicker, city officials said.

Mumpower said the fence project is a community effort, with no city tax 
dollars involved. And the local Seabee unit was glad to help out, said Lt. 
John Geurin.

"We decided it would be a good project to take on to help the people here 
and the city of Asheville."

Asheville Police officer Geoffrey Rollins said the fence would assist his 
fellow members of the drug suppression unit who patrol the area.

"To catch street-level drug dealers, it sometimes takes six to eight 
officers on foot to catch one dealer," he said. "Having a barrier like this 
will block off one area where they can hide."
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