$75/hr: N.C. tourist town hires off-duty deputies to backup city officers
Asheville pays for off-duty county deputies as part of a new 60-day project to fight crime downtown
By Bill Carey
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Faced with rising crime and decreasing staffing, the Ashville Police Department has begun hiring off-duty Buncombe County deputies to backup city officers downtown.
Six deputies are being paid $75 per hour to help their counterparts on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., the Asheville Watchdog reported.
This is part of a new pilot program the City of Asheville rolled out to combat crime in the small city, which has seen aggravated assaults rise by 21.8% and armed robberies by 20% from 2021 to 2022. The "Downtown Asheville Problem Solving Initiative," is expected to cost $14,400 and last through Mother's Day weekend.
“Our efforts in downtown should in no way suggest that we aren’t focused on safety across the entire community. This intensive effort is driven by data that suggests a disturbing trend of increases in both property and violent crime in our downtown,” said Asheville Police Chief David Zack in a statement on the city’s website.
Chief Zack old Fox News Digital last fall the department lost over 100 officers since tense protests in the city in May 2020. He pinpointed family pressures, a perceived lack of community support and low pay in the expensive city as major factors.
“During this 60-day period, City staff will be tracking and testing actions we hope will make for a safer downtown,” said City Manager Debra Campbell. “The efforts we are taking will be tracked and regularly updated on a newly created Downtown Safety Initiative Page. At the end of the 60 days, staff will assess whether our actions are having an impact on downtown safety and determine next steps to support a safer downtown and City as a whole.”