GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Six months after the City of Goldsboro announced changes in an effort to reduce violent crime, the city is reporting a decrease in crime.
The changes came after the city saw eight homicides in the first half of 2016. It was a record pace for the city that usually sees only three or four murders a year, according to city officials.
One of the most notable homicides was the shooting death of 32-year-old Ryan Apollo Morgan, a Seymour Johnson airman.
Morgan was killed outside the Railhouse bar in late July following an argument in downtown Goldsboro, according to police.
“That was the first time I had heard of anyone get shot or killed downtown,” said Quasheem Murray
This weekend, 36-year-old Bobby Williams was charged in the murder and was extradited to Goldsboro from Greene County where he was jailed on unrelated charges. A judge denied Williams bond during his arraignment on Tuesday.
Less than a week after Morgan’s killing, Goldsboro city leaders held a news conference to announce several changes in an effort to reduce crime. One of the changes was new technology, including a gunshot detection software called “ShotSpotter” and more cameras around the city.
The Governor’s Crime Commission also gave the city a $50,000 grant to try to help reduce gang violence in the area. Police put the grant money toward putting more officers on the street and paying them overtime.
At the time, the city announced a new gang suppression unit and said they would put more of an emphasis on community policing.
Some Goldsboro residents say they’ve noticed the changes first hand.
“We see more police officers in and out of businesses,” said Carol Dilligard. “We see them more interacting with the citizens and just more presence on the street.”
City leaders say after the changes, there were only three homicides the rest of the year. Police also report a 10 percent decrease in uniform crime reporting numbers.
However, of those 11 homicides in 2016 police are still working six unsolved murders. Police are now working to solve another murder that occurred Wednesday morning. Many say they’re optimistic the most recent arrest will bring some hope to victims’ families still looking for closure.
“Homicides are going to be something we’re going to stay on and trying to solve until we get to the end,” said Goldsboro City Manager Scott Stevens. “Even years later, we’ll still try to solve these cases.”
Stevens says he’d like to see more improvements in community policing heading into 2017. He says he’d like police to do more door knocks in the community to allow patrol officers to get to know and build trust with residents.
“Most people see a bad event that occurs in their neighborhood,” said Stevens. “They have to help us or be willing to help us solve the crime, we often can’t do it without the community’s help.”