General concerned about Fayetteville crime

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April 27, 2010 3:58:44 PM PDT
Fort Bragg's commanding general says area crime is a major concern as about 3000 civilian employees get ready to make the Fayetteville area home.

The U.S. Army Forces Command headquarters is moving to Fort Bragg from Atlanta.

But in recent months, Fayetteville has been in the national spotlight for some high profile crime stories. The murder of 5-year-old Shanyia Davis was the lead story in newspapers and national TV news shows.

A serial rapist attacking women in the area has also made headlines.

During a community forum Monday night, Fort Bragg commander General Frank Helmick told city leaders crime is one of the big issues of concern for people moving to the area from Atlanta.

But many who live and work in Fayetteville say it shouldn't be. Rachel Kugelmann used to live in Atlanta.

"I would much rather be in Fayetteville. Atlanta's scary. It's not safe and I would recommend Fayetteville," she offered.

"Fayetteville is safe. It's a good place with good people and we're real southern and happy around here," said resident Tehra Thornton.

Fayetteville leaders say the city has come a long way since the days of strip clubs in the 500 block of Hay Street. And local law enforcement officers say there's just no comparison between crime in Fayetteville and that in Atlanta.

"I certainly would want to tell the folks that's coming here from Atlanta I think they'll find a much quieter and crime-free area than Atlanta, Georgia. And I'm not putting Atlanta down, but I know it's a large area and crime is pretty rampant in that area," offered Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler.

But there are numbers to support the general's concern. According to the FBI, Fayetteville saw a large increase in violent crime in 2007 and 2008. But Fayetteville police say the trend is changing.

"Our rate from last year to this year in violent crime has gone down 21 percent. So, we're very happy with that and we hope that's a trend that's going to continue," said Fayetteville Police spokesman Dan Grubb.

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