The quarterly “Chat with the Chief” at Wrightsville Beach
gave residents a chance to hear about recent developments and initiatives
within the police department and air their questions regarding current law
Chief Dan House began the meeting with a presentation that
outlined current crime trends in the community. Regarding “Part One” crimes, or
more serious offenses, most crimes have dropped since the same quarter last
year, stretching from July through September. Vandalism was the major exception
the chief pointed out, having risen from 13 to 29 cases this year. However,
overall instances had decreased from 109 to 100. Drug violations were significantly
down, totaling 13 from the previous year’s total of 29.
“Part Two” crimes were slightly higher than last year, but
DWI arrests and liquor violations had both been more than cut in half from
“People are either getting the point, or hiding it better,”
House said of the drop in alcohol violations, which dropped to nearly half of
their citation levels from the same time period last year.
A “Bait Bike” program launched by the WPD failed to net any
attempted thefts, but House said the lack of results appeared to correspond to
a lack of willingness on the part of would-be thieves.
House also discussed the WPD’s “No Trespassing” program, which
allows residents to pay $11 for a sign that warns potential trespassers of the
The department is working on a CALEA, or Commission on
Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, certification, in order to bring
its staff to a higher level of achievement and preventative capability. Captain
Paul Burdette told those gathered at the Town Hall’s Council Chambers that a “mock
assessment” will occur within the next few months, with the goal being to identify
problems within the department and potential obstacles to its receiving a
certification. House added the official assessment should occur sometime in
House said the department is also looking at getting state
DOT personnel more involved in issues with drawbridge traffic on good weather
days, calling the 17 minutes the drawbridge remained open earlier in the day “a
Critical Incident Planning was discussed in the context of
national tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and the
Boston Marathon bombings earlier this year. He said a plan was in place for
responding to such an emergency at the elementary school, but because of the
sensitive nature of such a plan, it had only been released to school officials.
House added it will also cover other occurrences such as fire and hazardous
A question-and-answer segment at the end of the meeting drew
several questions regarding spillover from the gang activity currently seeing
an uptick in Wilmington. House responded that while gang members had been
identified in downtown Wrightsville Beach, the closest WPD had come to an
arrest involving gang members had been a traffic stop downtown, in which an
arrest was made for two unregistered firearms. Two gang members were identified
in the stopped car, but an individual with no known gang affiliation or prior
arrests had taken responsibility for possession of the weapons.
Wrightsville Beach resident Tim Taylor commended the chief
for his department’s involvement in the elementary school, adding that officers
were developing a “good report” with schoolchildren. Since the Newtown
shooting, WPD officers have begun maintaining a presence at the school during
dropoff and pickup hours, as well as performing walkthroughs at the school.
A question from resident Jean Van Velsor questioning the
legality of bicyclists taking up entire lanes of traffic was answered by
Burdette, who said bikers are considered vehicles under state law, and their
occupation of the full lane is legally permissible. However, he added that
additional requirements such as headlamps and reflectors on the back of bikes
could result in citations for offending cyclists.