Smaller cities and counties with smaller tax bases can’t always afford the capital expenses of their wealthier neighbors — it’s a simple fact of life for rural Appalachian governments that often have to do without the luxuries afforded to the better-off.

A variety of law enforcement agencies serve the 60,000 residents speckled about the 555 square miles of Haywood County, and although they all practice varying degrees of camera system usage, they all seem to share similar concerns about costs and benefits.

On Aug. 9, 2014, an encounter between Officer Darren Wilson and 18-year-old Michael Brown on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, left Brown dead and the entire nation in the midst of a riotous public debate over whether the shooting was a product of racism or self-defense. 

The tools of truth

As the digital revolution proceeds unabated and technology exponentially shrinks in size and cost, law enforcement agencies have more tools in and on their trunks than ever before. 

The increasing use of body-worn and dash-mounted police cameras in Western North Carolina has sparked privacy concerns from citizens and cost concerns from local governments struggling to equip officers with the devices.

• The tools of truth
• Jackson law enforcement navigates new age of police video
• Haywood cop cam use low, may grow
• Out of sight: Macon, Swain departments largely off-cam

In the last five years Macon County Sheriff’s Office has responded to 627 calls where guns were involved, and 137 of those have occurred in just the last 10 months.

Macon County Sheriff’s Office concluded “Operation Thunderstruck” on Sept. 9 with 26 arrests for drug-related offenses while three suspects are still at large. 

law enforcementThere are people who believe that the reason black men seem to keep getting shot and killed by police officers is that they simply will not obey orders or “show respect” for authority. There are people who believe that this is a media-created problem, and not a race problem. There are people who believe that the Black Lives Matter movement is racist by definition, as if the implication in saying black lives matter in the first place is that no other lives matter, as if the suggestion that context matters, too, is just liberal hogwash.

fr trashSuspicions that people are concealing old sofas and worn-out mattresses over state and county lines to dump on the sly in Jackson is irking county commissioners, but stopping the illicit trash smugglers could be tough.

fr billhollingsedLaw enforcement officers in Haywood County are pulling double duty in the war on drugs: they’re saving lives as well as fighting crime.

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