Drug seizures skyrocket, Lenoir police say
Drug seizures in Lenoir skyrocketed from 2012 to 2013, the police chief told the city council Tuesday night.
The amount of methamphetamine seized jumped an astounding 525 percent, from 4.2 grams in all of 2012 to 355.8 grams in 2013; the amount of crack cocaine rose 233 percent, from 67.2 grams in 2012 to 224 grams in 2013; and prescription pill seizures rose 214 percent, from 356 dosage units to 1,117 dosage units, Chief Scott Brown reported.
In street value, that’s $118,460 worth of narcotics in 2013, $53,370 in methamphetamine alone and $11,035 in prescription pills, he said.
The increase in drug seizures is due mainly to an increase in people using and manufacturing the drugs, as well as bringing them into the county, Brown said.
But Brown said the numbers were evidence of good police work, calling the Lenoir Police Department’s annual report for 2013 “one of the most impressive annual reports I’ve seen in 26 years of doing this.”
The amount of stolen property recovered also increased sharply, by 262 percent, to $113,816.
The report shows a number of areas where crime dropped, including a 31-percent reduction in personal injury traffic collisions, a total of 136 compared to 198 in 2012. In 2013, only one fatal crash occurred in Lenoir, involving a single vehicle.
Brown said the reduction in crash numbers is especially encouraging because the total is the lowest since the city has been keeping records, and a huge drop from the 2010 total of 517.
"That’s impressive,” Brown said. “Our guys are doing a great job.”
One of the starkest improvements is the amount of “Part 1” crime, or crimes to property and people, including breaking and entering, auto larceny, rape, murder, robbery and more. Part 1 crimes were down 10 percent in Lenoir from 2013, getting to the lowest levels since 2007, to which Brown said “aggressive, assertive patrols are starting to pay off.”
In other business, the city council heard of a proposal to overhaul the city’s code enforcement policies and strategies, and the council set a public hearing for March 18 on it.
The changes aim to clarify the enforcement process and would create a new position, nuisance abatement investigator, to handle some problems currently handled by the planning department.
Planning director Jenny Wheelock said that as far back as she can tell, the city has had a single code enforcement officer who handled everything from zoning and minimal housing requirements to animal complaints and abandoned vehicles.
“It’s too much work for one person to do well,” Wheelock said.
Under the new plan, the planning department’s zoning and housing inspector position would enforce zoning, housing and building ordinances, including permits, inspections, minimum housing requirements and dilapidated buildings, while the police department would gain a nuisance abatement investigator to reports of nuisance animals as well as such problems as trash and debris, noise, junk and abandoned vehicles, and overgrown grass or weeds.
The changes would extend the time for owners to bring their properties into compliance from 10 days to 15 days, and once that time has passed, instead of doing the needed work with city workers the city would hire a private contractor, who the property owner then would have to pay for the work.
Under the proposal, instead of the $50-per-day penalty system currently in place, violators would be assessed escalating penalties the longer the violation goes without being fixed.
Some of the proposed changes were not welcomed by council members, notably T.J. Rohr, who said he has a “real problem with imposing criminal sanctions.”
“I’m going to be going through page by page with concerns I have on this,” he said.