Top cops to speak at forum
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
The three top law enforcement officials in the Twin Counties are scheduled to appear this week at the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly legislative forum.
Rocky Mount Police Chief George Robinson, Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson and Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone will be at the gathering, which is set for 8 a.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn at 200 Enterprise Drive.
Chamber President David Farris said the choice of bringing in the three law enforcement officials came about when Robinson was appointed police chief on March 11 after having served in the position on an interim basis since January.
“And we thought it would be a good way to introduce him to some of the community leadership,” Farris said.
Additionally, Farris said the thinking was not only to provide the audience a chance to meet the new chief but to provide them with the chance to hear from Atkinson and Stone about how the three agencies work together now and what they hope to accomplish, along with what trends they may see.
“I think those three gentlemen know each other and are pretty much in sync already. We’re going to let them sort of set the pace,” Farris said.
Robinson said in a prepared statement issued through city spokeswoman Tameka Kenan-Norman, “During the Chamber gathering, I will talk about the considerable reductions in our crime rate, the perception of crime in our city and how we need citizen feedback.”
“While we are making progress, there is more work to do and we need our citizens as partners to develop positive change,” Robinson said in the statement.
He said the Rocky Mount Police Department has always been dedicated to providing the highest level of police service to city residents. He also said the department always strives to improve the quality of life in the communities and to build new partnerships that create a safe environment for everyone in the city.
“These partnerships include our support of the Nash and Edgecombe county sheriff’s offices, understanding that crime is interrelated,” he said.
Stone, who was a longtime state trooper, said he has known Robinson, who’s a 27-year veteran of the Rocky Mount Police Department, ever since Robinson began his career on the city force.
Stone said he and Robinson worked well together through the years and added, “I look forward to working with him as the chief and with the sheriff’s office.”
“And we have a very good working relationship,” Stone said. “And I even think that we can make it better.”
Stone praised Willie Williams, who had been interim police chief since late 2017, saying Williams “did a whole lot in putting together strong working relationships within the agencies.”
“And I look forward to carrying it on with Chief Robinson,” Stone said.
Stone emphasized alleged criminals and troublemakers don’t think in terms of boundary lines and jurisdictions.
That’s why the Tar River Regional Task Force is important in working against gangs, guns and illegal drugs, Stone said. The task force was established in 2016 with numerous officers from throughout the area.
“And as we’ve just had with this recent escape and our recent homicide, things that happen on one side of the tracks go to the other side,” Stone said.
Edgecombe County Sheriff Atkinson said the only way to make sure Twin Counties residents get what they need and deserve, in terms of quality of life, is when all three agency heads are working together.
“So yes, it’s a positive thing for them to see all three of us” in partnership, Atkinson said.
Atkinson also said he is going to emphasize to the Chamber gathering that, “If we can keep crime down, this helps us economically to recruit businesses and things like that.”
One concern of Atkinson’s is the opioid crisis and said he and his fellow law enforcement officials have got to continue trying to combat the situation.
Atkinson also emphasized the need to be able to bring in things to make Edgecombe County shine and make the county attractive to young people and grow the population.
Atkinson said, as sheriff, his part is making sure local residents know they are living in a safe community.