Graham police say that criminal activity – including drugs, guns, and violent crimes, sometimes gang-related – has plagued The Pines Apartments and the surrounding area along Ivey Road since at least early 2020.
The issue arose anew during a seemingly routine traffic stop last Thursday, during which several residents sought to interfere with the police on the scene; that interference led to the arrests of three individuals who were not involved in the underlying traffic stop. [See separate story this edition.]
In an interview with The Alamance News, police chief Kristi Cole and assistant chief R.S. King observed that the apartment complex is absorbing a disproportionate amount of law enforcement resources with increasingly frequent calls – and those calls are often regarding serious crimes.
Meanwhile, other residents at the complex have expressed to police they are fearful for their own safety in the midst of the crime reported at the complex.
As a result, Graham police have stepped up patrols along Ivey Road and near The Pines at the request of residents of the Pines and neighbors who say they fear for their safety, Cole and King said in an interview with the newspaper Tuesday.
The department has received multiple complaints about alleged drug sales and illegal activities involving weapons at The Pines, which Cole and King said “are still being actively investigated.”
Graham police have worked to make sure residents are aware of the heightened police presence around The Pines, and why they’re there, King told the newspaper.
Graham police department received approximately 233 calls for service in the area of Ivey Road between January 2021 and March 2022, and of those, 44 percent of calls were related to suspected criminal activity at The Pines, Cole and King said. Comparison figures for 2019 and 2020 aren’t available for that specific area due to a change in data management software, King explained.
In analyzing call data, Graham police specifically looked at “the most egregious [threats] to public safety,” King said, and The Pines Apartments rose to the top of the list.
Graham police were in that area last Thursday due to a “planned project” that began about a month ago as part of the department’s efforts to focus on community policing, which King said is beyond the “routine enforcement” of traffic and criminal laws that police are responsible for upholding.
The community policing effort is still in the early stages of implementation but has been underway for some time, Cole and King said Tuesday.
Driver cited for seat belt violation without incident
Two Graham police officers were conducting a traffic stop that culminated at The Pines Apartments last Thursday afternoon, when a bystander refused to comply with verbal commands not to interfere with the stop. He was eventually taken to the ground, handcuffed, and arrested by two Graham police officers who were conducting the traffic stop.
The three individuals who attempted to interfere with the traffic stop are identified in the accompanying story.
The driver who was stopped for a seat belt violation complied with the instructions he was given by the officer and was cited without incident, King said in the interview. “He didn’t have his I.D. with him, but he complied,” the assistant chief said. “I don’t think the driver lives there [at The Pines],” King added.
‘A pattern of behavior’
The bystanders who attempted to interfere with the traffic stop are part of what King describes as “a pattern of behavior” – among certain groups of people who are believed to live in or frequent the Pines apartment complex – of taunting police officers when they respond to calls for service. “This is a repeat behavior in this area,” King said.
“They taunt you, call you names,” the assistant chief elaborated, adding, “We can handle taunts,” King explained dryly. Part of the basic law enforcement training and yearly in-service training all law enforcement officers receive deals with how to avoid reacting to confrontational behavior, he elaborated.
[Story continues below photos.]
PHOTOS AT THE PINES APARTMENTS, IVEY ROAD, GRAHAM
Cole and King both emphasized that “no officer ever wants to” get drawn into a confrontation or physical struggle with a subject or a bystander.
“Residents seeing cars getting shot up – they should not have to live with that,” said King. “We need the community to help get involved. That sometimes [goes beyond] just reporting when something happens in the parking lot.”
Some of the individuals who’ve attempted to instigate confrontations with police responding to calls coming from the area in and around The Pines are known to law enforcement and are known to have weapons, King said.
Though he declined to give specifics, citing ongoing investigations into criminal activity at the complex, the assistant police chief confirmed that at least one person is a validated gang member.
Read each of these stories in this week’s (April 28) edition of The Alamance News and online at alamancenews.com:
Graham Police: Pines Apts. has become hot spot for crimes involving guns, drugs, and gangs: https://alamancenews.com/graham-police-pines-apts-has-become-hot-spot-for-crimes-involving-guns-drugs-and-gangs/
Latest episode: Routine traffic stop results in apt. residents trying to interfere with police; three arrested – https://alamancenews.com/three-arrested-for-trying-to-disrupt-traffic-stop-at-the-pines-apts-in-graham/
Serious charges involving previous incidents at the apartment complex: https://alamancenews.com/other-violent-crimes-at-the-pines/
Some “regulars” have serious criminal records: https://alamancenews.com/some-charged-at-the-pines-have-long-prior-records/
Covid eviction moratorium has prevented expulsion of criminal characters from the complex: https://alamancenews.com/evictions-moratorium-made-it-harder-to-get-rid-of-bad-actors/
Community policing is Graham police chief’s focus: https://alamancenews.com/a-model-for-graham/