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Thursday, March 23, 2023

High Point police recap last year, set new goals for 2023

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — The High Point police chief outlined crimes in the city, how they were committed and where they’re happening more often at a public safety meeting on Wednesday.

One of the areas of concern that’s been a problem for officers for decades is the 200 to 400 block of Brentwood Street.

The good news is there was a four percent reduction in total crime and a two percent drop in violent crime. To keep those numbers down, Chief Travis Stroud said it all starts on the streets.

“Traffic stops are the key to reducing our violent crimes,” Deputy Chief Anthro Gamble said.

It’s a proactive approach to policing.

“Our officers are out there actively looking for crime taking place,” Chief Stroud said. “It can’t be all calls you get in.”

Stroud’s officers are stopping vehicles for reasonable suspicion and probable cause to get criminals and guns off the streets. During a recent traffic stop, an officer found five firearms inside a vehicle.

“Those five guns that he seized on one traffic stop cannot hurt you, your family and us,” Gamble said.

To initiate those stops, Stroud needs more help. The department is down 38 officers, and at least nine are leaving by the end of the year.

“We don’t like to…take off that armor and show that side, and a lot of them just don’t want to complain,” Stroud said. “But I do think there is quite a bit of pressure.”

Stroud admits that at times, his current team is struggling to keep up with the demand. In the first three months of 2023, the department averaged 393 calls per day, which is a 28.5 percent increase from 2022.

“I look at it like running a race,” Stroud said. “You can run, and you can run hard for a while, but eventually, you get tired. It’s the same thing for officers. Whether it be physically and/or mentally, those things start to add up.”

Stroud wonders how long officers can sustain this workload. He knows they’ll keep doing their best to protect the people living, working and visiting High Point.

“We’re going to go as hard as we can for as long as we can,” Stroud said. “But I do have some concerns that if we don’t start picking up some of these vacancies…that volume is just going to be too much for a small group to handle.”

Stroud has three goals for the department this year. One is to remain a full-service police department. He wants all the units operating now to be operational by 2024.

Next, he wants the number of officer vacancies below 30.

Finally, Stroud is aiming for the crime rate to be lower than this past year.

Stroud thinks all these are achievable. He just needs officers to make it happen. Stroud said they are actively recruiting.

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