ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) – Following a string of shootings that led to many people losing loved ones, Rocky Mount Mayor Saunders Roberson called for an emergency meeting of the city council Saturday morning.
The meeting had been planned for Tuesday, but after a deadly shooting at a Chili’s restaurant Friday night, Roberson called for an emergency meeting Saturday morning.
Seating was nearly filled to capacity Saturday morning inside of the council chambers, as the public listened to council members offering suggestions for Rocky Mount Police Chief Robert Hassell.
“I know we can do a better job of going out and identifying gang members,” said Lige Daughtridge, the councilman for Ward 5.
Other council members spoke on how detrimental gun violence is to their communities.
“There’s a lot of trauma within the community,” Richard Joyner, Ward 3 councilman said during the meeting.
Council members and law enforcement talked for nearly two hours Saturday morning about the recent surge in crime and finding solutions.
Here is a full list of deadly and other shootings just five months into the year in Rocky Mount.
Daughtridge said he would like to see a collaborative effort between police and the two sheriff’s offices — Nash County and Edgecombe County.
“I would like to see the deputies and our officers riding together,” he said. “Our citizens pay taxes for both so if you need some help, it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that we have a problem and we need to do something about it,” he said.
At the end of the meeting, the council declared “a state of emergency on crime” for Hassell.
This decision will allow the department to receive access to federal and state funds and resources.
“In this particular case, it is just to be in support of our chief of police,” Roberson said.
Hassell said the message from the community is clear.
“We hear the message from our council, we hear the message from our citizens, that we need to ensure that we’re putting strategies and plans in place to deal with the concerns and issues facing our city right now,” he said.
So far the city has had 10 homicides this year, eight of which have already been solved. However, Hassell said any death from crime isn’t good for the city.
“One homicide is one too many. We’re still working very hard on the remaining two. And hopefully, with the leads we’re tracking down and persons of interest, we’ll have some kind of successful conclusion with those in the near future,” Hassell said during his news conference.
CBS 17 asked if the city is deemed safe for citizens
“That’s a question I think the citizens would have to answer, I feel overall our city is safe,” Hassell said.
At this time the chief said he and his officers are working overtime and tirelessly to keep the community safe. He also said the state of emergency will remain in place until crime decreases.