At the quarterly
Wrightsville Beach Police Department Chat with the Chief, Chief Dan House was
able to address the concerns of residents who made it to the meeting and, for
the first time, those watching at home on the town’s Livestream channel. Along
with fielding questions from the audience at the meeting, Wrightsville Beach
residents could email their questions in beforehand or call in a question during
the chat by dialing the number visible in the video screen.
House said he
was concerned the video streaming feature would detract from the number of
citizens who attended, but that he was happy with the turnout.
“This has been
the most crowded it has been in a while,” House said. “When I first did it you
couldn’t find a seat in here because they had a lot of issues and we have fixed
most of those.”
presentation at the beginning of the chat, House said the issues that have
continued on the beach are with burglary and larceny. The number of burglaries
for the months of October, November and December of 2012 was up to 10 from four
in the same months of 2011. Similarly, there were 26 cases of larceny in those
months of 2012 as opposed to four in 2011. To combat these persistent issues,
House said the WBPD would continue to utilize the bait program and educated the
public about securing homes and cars. There are many people that still leave
their homes or cars unlocked on the beach, House said.
With the push to
enforce town beach ordinances in 2012, House said last quarter’s citations were
up to 71 from 23 in the same quarter in 2011, but much lower than the 2012
quarter before that when the department wrote close to 900 citations.
One statistic from
the winter that House was surprised with was the 6,505 received and projected calls
for service that was similar to the 8,069 in the months of May through
September. This statistic, House said, spoke to how Wrightsville Beach is
transforming into a year-round community.
House said he would be pushing for in 2013 includes an ordinance currently
being drafted by town attorney John Wessell that would hold rental property
owners accountable for repeat offenses by their tenants for citations like
noise violations. The process of when the landlord would be cited is still
being developed but House said it would likely be after multiple offenses and a
written warning to the property owner.
program House said his department and Wessell are working on would address
instances of trespassing when the property owners are not at home. The
homeowner would sign up for the program and agree to let the WBPD act on their
behalf to remove or arrest the trespasser.
Many of the
questions asked by those in the crowd and via email concerned noise violations,
bicycle safety and the traffic at the Heide Trask Drawbridge. In discussing the
traffic and bicycle safety, town resident Jim Smith asked House if there could
be anything done to prevent cyclists from going to the front of the line when
the drawbridge is raised. When this happens, Smith said the cars in front are
only able to drive as fast as the bikes because the bikes have to ride in the
lane, thus delaying the clearing of traffic.
Also related to
the drawbridge traffic, resident Joy Miller inquired as to why the WBPD does
not seek assistance from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol for traffic
management on the western side of the drawbridge during heavy traffic.
It is because of
suggestions and feedback like this that House began Chat with the Chief.
“First of all it
gives us an opportunity to showcase what we are doing, what issues we are
having,” he said. “Then, also it gives them an opportunity to give us feedback
and good suggestions.”