GREENSBORO, N.C. — Some people who live on Overland Heights in Greensboro said they got used to the sound of gunshots on their street.
“I’ve had shots fired so close to my house that I can see the blasts,” said Margo Mingo, who has lived on the street three years. “People laying out on the streets, people found behind piles of wood.”
“I was always afraid to go out after dark,” said Garrett Fisher, who also lives on Overland Heights. “Outside my window – pop, pop, pop every single night.”
But now, over the past couple months, Fisher and Mingo both said they’ve seen a significant reduction in crime. They credit a Greensboro police initiative that’s targeting the street.
Lt. Dan Knott said the initiative, which will run 90 days and started in mid-March, focuses on an increased police presence in the neighborhood — but not just marked patrol cars parked on the street. Knott said officers have been going door to door to speak with residents one-on-one and hear any concerns or suggestions for improving the neighborhood.
“You’re the biggest stakeholder out here because you live here,” Lt. Knott told Mingo. “Your children need to be able to go outside and play. You shouldn’t be afraid to go outside. We don’t want that.”
Lt. Knott said the initiative also involves partnering with other city agencies to clean up the area. He said trees have been trimmed back to allow for lighting to be more visible from the street lamps. He also said city crews now come every week, instead of every other week, to pick up large trash items like couches and televisions discarded on the side of the street.
Crime data from Greensboro police shows that the number of reported offenses on Overland Heights for the months of March and April decreased this year compared to last.
In March and April of 2015, there were 24 total offenses ranging from aggravated assault to vandalism, and in March and April of 2016, there were 21, according to police. Police data also states that the number of charges decreased this year over the same time period, from eight to three.
Although there were at least two homicides on Overland Heights in Feb. 2016, police data indicates there have not been any since the launch of the initiative.
Lt. Knott was quick to say that any reduction in crime should not necessarily be attributed to the initiative. Instead, he said it’s about building lasting partnerships with the community that will continue long after the 90-day initiative is technically complete.