East Greensboro neighborhood focuses on improving neighborhood, curbing violence

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Worries about shootings, drug dealings, robberies and more brought close to 100 people from the Bessemer neighborhood of east Greensboro together to hear from police about calming things down.

The meeting at Genesis Baptist Church was prompted by a deadly double shooting on Beck Street on Dec. 11 that killed Jay Allen, 30, and critically injured Keith Womack, 34.

Neighbors asked city council representatives and police to address the issues of what they feel is escalating violence in their neighborhood even though police said during the meeting that compared to last year violent crimes are down 7 percent city wide.

“We are just trying to work together to determine what the underlying issues are and address the issues to fix the problem,” said Tanya Kutchen, an assistant public defender in Guilford County.

Kutchen wanted to get involved because she sees many young men and women come through the criminal justice system call east Greensboro home. She believes improving the social environment so kids growing up aren’t dealing with hunger issues or skipping school.

She was one of the several people brainstorming ideas on how to improve that community network within east Greensboro.

“We don't have a one size fits all solution to it so that's why we are getting the information from the community and putting it all together,” said Jamal Fox, a Greensboro City Councilman who represents the east side.

Other groups worked on ideas for landlords and homeowners to improve street lighting and making sure abandoned home stay boarded up, two tactics that can work against drug activity.

Another group also worked with police about crime. The police department is launching a 90-day program aimed at using undercover and plain clothes officers to bust gang members and other criminals that usually just duck out of sight when they see regular patrols in the neighborhoods then get back to work when the coast is clear.

“We're coming together as a district, as a community and we're putting together everything on the table as far as strategies,” said Fox.