Fayetteville police alone will not solve Fayetteville’s violence problem: Williams

Violent crime is spiraling out of control in Fayetteville. Homicides and other violent acts are causing our community irreparable harm, and we must find a way to stop the insanity.

We should have pushed the panic button, but politics always gets in the way.

Those who believe police alone can solve this problem may be well-intentioned but are sincerely wrong. Policing has never been the sole solution for varying levels of community safety.

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The wealthiest neighborhoods in Fayetteville do not experience the intense police surveillance and enforcement imposed on poor areas. Yet, violence among the upscale neighborhoods remains reliably lower than that of their poor peers across town. What can we conclude from this observation?

Are the “good” areas in Fayetteville safe from violence because the police have already finished their work in those neighborhoods, or are there other factors that have nothing to do with guns and badges responsible for the lower rates of violence? More importantly, can those factors be replicated in low-income neighborhoods to prevent and reduce crime without over-policing the poor?

Troy Williams

Young people, especially young males, account for a disproportionate amount of community violence. In Fayetteville, those young males are primarily African American.

So, the short answer is to target young Black males. When arrests are up, crime is down, right? Of course, the easiest and quickest answers are rarely the best answers.

Poor neighborhoods generally contain poor people. To survive, people require money and basic needs. With that in mind, it’s understandable they will likely turn to crime to obtain these needs if they feel it’s necessary.

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Targeting Black males has a long history of oppression and stereotyping. Most African American men are not criminals or dangerous.

There are models of reducing violence without police. Violence reduction interventions other than policing have been successful in some other places. They can be expanded and replicated in Fayetteville.

Our community leaders must be able to identify vital, theoretically informed strategies with proven track records that work and know how to implement them. What precisely do we do to reduce violence without police?

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center has a review of research evidence I hope to introduce to our community. There are also sources of other information; see CrimeSolutions.gov, a site hosted for the U.S. Department of Justice.

In the meantime, we need to galvanize our efforts and join forces to save our community. WIDU radio 99.7 FM, a heritage gospel information/inspiration station located off Murchison Road in the heart of the African American community, started a daily program series called “Crisis in the City” last week.

Fayetteville Police Department personnel stand in a field near where a man was found with fatal gunshot wounds on Bonanza Drive on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. The identity of the victim, Ernest Bullock, 24, was released by police Tuesday.

Their approach is faith, facts and forward progress in addressing the violence in our community. The commitment is to discuss the problem of violence with subject matter experts, faith leaders and interested stakeholders and end each broadcast with a prayer for our community by local clergy members.

Other communities have overcome violent crime, and I’m confident Fayetteville will succeed.

Troy Williams is a member of The Fayetteville Observer Community Advisory Board. He is a legal analyst and criminal defense investigator. He can be reached at talk2troywilliams@yahoo.com. 

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