New initiative aimed at cutting down crime in Winston-Salem’s Cleveland Avenue area

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A new initiative is underway, with the mission of cutting down on crime in one of Winston-Salem’s most crime-ridden areas.

“They’re afraid to come out of their homes and we want them to be able to come out and enjoy the park and walk the streets just as any other neighborhood,” said Cpl. J.D. Best, of the Winston-Salem Police Department.

The people Best is referring to belong to the Cleveland Avenue area and the Cleveland Avenue Homes in particular. For years, these people have been exposed to daily crime, ranging from homicides, to drug activity, to assaults and break-ins.

“Most senior citizens, they’re kind of afraid because people’s out shooting their guns and stuff,” said Cleveland Homes resident Sammie Lee Byrd.

As part of a larger violent crime initiative, the Cleveland Homes Initiative kicked off by officers walking the streets, simply meeting and talking to residents.

“We just try to talk to folks, ask them how their family is, how their kids are,” Best said.

For hours on Tuesday morning, officers were seen doing just that. Many residents expressed that they were happy to see the officers, in what were referred to as “ice breakers.”

“It would help the community,” Byrd said.

It’s the department’s hope that the relationships they formed today, and are yet to form, will help them and the residents in the future.

“Those are the people that we can go back when something does come down and they know us, they know this officer or that officer and they feel like there’s a bond there,” Best said.

More steps in both the Cleveland Avenue and city-wide initiatives are expected to be rolled out in coming weeks.

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