On January 8, 2018 members of the Police Department, along with members of the faith-based leadership of our Building Bridges group, all participated in “shoot, don’t shoot” scenario training at Wake Tech Community College. This interactive, computer-based training put trainees in real life scenarios involving shooting incidents from officers’ actual experiences. The training was not only an awesome, hands-on opportunity for members of our community to experience police officer training techniques. It also allowed them to understand—as close as possible—what it is like to be in the same deadly force situations faced by so many officers around the country.
The training was well received by the group and many expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn. Based on feedback we received, the training offered a new look into the job of a police officer and the split- second challenges that are often faced on the street. A special thank you to Cary Police Sergeant Wyatt Crabtree and Wake Tech staff for giving us such a fun and insightful experience.
Barbershop Rap Sessions' Influence Grows
Almost four years ago, the Police Department started forming closer ties within the community by attending and engaging in Barbershop Rap Sessions. Taking a section from this playbook, the Town has spun off two similar initiatives to promote open dialogue and to foster greater understanding of others/perspectives and feelings on various topics affecting us all. Our community partners, Tru Pettigrew and Winslow Thornton of Tru Access, have been instrumental in delivering our Town Rap Sessions and STARTERS Program.
Monthly Town Rap Sessions at Herb Young Community Center helped ring in 2018. January and February sessions were well-attended and provided employees with a forum to discuss race relations issues. Future topics will include generational differences, the #MeToo movement and managing change. In addition, the Cary Police Department kicked off its Students That Are Restoring Trust Empathy Respect and Support, or STARTERS, program. This initiative is a youth-focused mentoring program initiated by high school resource officers and students. Intended to provide a discussion forum that is mediated and moderated by students, this program tackles issues that are important to today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders. Tru Access provides students, free of charge, with initial training on effectively facilitating dialogue. Panther Creek High School held their first session called Catamounts Connect. Over 50 students voluntarily attended during their free lunch period. Plans to expand this program to Green Hope High School and Middle Creek High School are already underway. It has also begun to push past our borders into Apex Friendship High School and Holly Grove Middle School, as well as several other schools throughout Wake County.
Share & Care
Now in its fourth year, Cary hosted almost 50 organizations and businesses at the Share & Care event, which was held at the Herb Young Community Center on February 16. This annual event is a resource fair for persons with disabilities as well as their caregivers, families and friends. Agencies offering programs, services and resource information were on hand to network with the over 200 people in attendance. This program has grown each year as the demand for resources for persons with disabilities has also continued to increase.
The Kite Festival, held March 3 at Fred G. Bond Metro Park, drew its largest attendance in history with an estimated crowd of 5,000 versus the previous year’s attendance, which was approximately 1,200. Prizes were awarded in a variety of categories, including best crash, smallest kite, highest flying and more. The event was a collaboration between Police, Public Works, and Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources.
Senior Health Fair
In March, the Cary Senior Center hosted its Health Fair in partnership with Resources for Seniors. The annual event, which is open to the public, hosts over 50 health and wellness related exhibitors that provide a variety of services and screenings for older adults. The event brought in 112 attendees from the Cary area. New to this year’s event was the Polka Dot Melanoma Foundation, which screened 22 attendees for skin cancer.
Have you experienced a maintenance issue at the one of the dog parks? Now it is as easy as TXT311 to report the problem. The application of this new system is the first phase of a pilot program designed to increase citizen convenience. When a text to 311 is received, a “case” is created in Salesforce and a team is notified with an alert from the Salesforce App. Depending on the issue, if the case can be resolved immediately, a text notification is returned to the person, letting the citizen know the issue has been resolved. If the problem requires more work, a work order is created and the citizen is alerted that the work is in process. When Public Works completes the task, another automated message is sent, letting the citizen know the problem has been resolved. Staff can also communicate directly via text with the citizen if additional information is required.
Celebrating Our African-American Culture and History
This quarter brought a rich array of programs sharing Cary’s African-American heritage.
January saw the celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday with MLK Jr. Dreamfest. Cary’s three-day observance included a full day of programs on January 13 at the Cary Arts Center. The activities began in the morning with children’s activities, which focused on songs of the civil rights movement. In the afternoon, a screening of the film, Racial Taboo, was followed by small group discussions with over 250 citizens participating. The evening program focused on culture, and the children who had learned songs in the morning returning to showcase the music. The Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble performed the world premiere of composer Harold Mims’ jazz composition, We Shall Overcome, which was specifically commissioned for this event. On January 14, Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed documentary, 13th, was screened at The Cary, followed by a panel discussion led by NCSU professor Dr. Thomas Easley. The Town’s final Dreamfest event was on the holiday itself, January 15, with a day of service at Good Hope Farm.
In February, Black History Month was observed on February 24, featuring a day of events at both The Cary Theater and at Cary Town Hall. The focus at The Cary Theater was on health in African-American communities.
The event included a panel discussion featuring area health care professionals who provided advice and resource suggestions for healthy living as well as diverse musical performances. At Town Hall, the theme was, “The Future of Black History.” This event focused on bridging gaps and connecting the dots of the contributions of great black influencers and thought leaders across different disciplines and generations. The event was hosted by Tru Pettigrew and WRAL anchor Lena Tillet. There were performances by London Childers and the celebrated gospel recording artist Todd Galberth. A multi-cultural panel discussion featured the thoughts about Black History Month from black, white, Hispanic and Indian residents. Baltimore Chief of Police Melvin Russell was the keynote speaker. The event was capped off by a special award presentation to two of the barbers from Headliners Barbershop for their incredible work in bringing the Cary community closer together. The Austin Lewis Award is a citizen-initiated award and the Police Star is the highest award given to a civilian by Chief of Police Tony Godwin. These awards were presented to Mr. Tron Watson and Mr. Anthony “Ant” Smith. It was a deeply moving moment to witness these outstanding Town of Cary citizens receiving recognition for their efforts to bridge racial and cultural gaps between our citizens. Over 250 people attended these events.
Finally, on March 6 at The Cary, poet and playwright Naima Yetunde Ince led a discussion about experiences, challenges, responsibilities and stories told by female playwrights of color, punctuated by select dramatic readings.
Chinese Lantern Festival
The third annual Chinese Lantern Festival wrapped up at Booth Amphitheatre on January 14 with a final attendance of 84,123. While unfortunate weather caused the festival to close for four days and extreme cold also depressed attendance by about 6,000 from last year, the Festival remained extremely popular and continued to draw enthusiastic crowds. Numerous patrons posted their experiences on social media, including at least three marriage proposals.