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Archive for January, 2014

Storm causes Red Cross to lose more than 1,900 units of blood and platelets

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

WILMINGTON, NC, (NEWS RELEASE) — Due to severe winter weather, the American Red Cross Carolinas Blood Services Region has lost dozens of blood drives since Tuesday, resulting in nearly 1,900 uncollected units of blood and platelets.

In the Wilmington area, blood drives were cancelled at organizations including GE, UNCW, Ogden Elementary School and Coco-Cola in Leland. A total of 10 blood drives in the greater Wilmington area have been cancelled since Tuesday resulting in a loss of more than 300 units of blood.

Since the beginning of January, winter storms and freezing temperatures have resulted in more than 600 American Red Cross blood drive cancellations and 20,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations across the county. Overall, 26 states and Washington, D.C. have had blood drives canceled because of weather.

As conditions improve and it’s safe to travel, the Red Cross is urging eligible donors of all blood types to make an appointment to donate blood and replenish lifesaving blood supplies by calling 910-254-GIVE or visiting redcrossblood.org. The Red Cross Wilmington Blood Center is open Monday 1-6pm, Wednesday 11:30am-4:30pm, Friday 8am-1:30pm and the second Sunday of the month 12-4:30pm. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments are encouraged.

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My Turn: What’s your grade for the Cape Fear area

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Although we didn't get a lot of school work done this week, I think it's time to get out the grade book and do a little scoring.  The Atlanta area gets a big fat F.  But I'm giving the Cape Fear area a B+

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WPD K-9 officer will return in different job; K-9 unit to be reviewed

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police say the officer who unleashed his K-9 on a man in November will return to work, but in a different job.

Ofc. Stafford Brister is clear to come back to work, but he will be working as a patrol officer.

Chief Ralph Evangelous says the incident has also prompted the department to take a closer look at its K-9 unit.

After a more than month-long internal investigation, Ofc. Brister will return to work within the next couple of days, Evangelous said. WPD put Brister on administrative leave as it investigated the use of his K-9 Cass on a suspect who led police on a chase Halloween night.

Moving forward WPD plans to bring in an expert from the United States Police Canine Association to make sure the unit is working up to standards.

“We think bringing in someone from outside the region that knows no one will be able to give us an honest objective look,” Evangelous said. “I think that’s important for the community to know that we are using best practices, and if we’re not, we’ll fix it.”

Evangelous said the review will provide recommendations that will be shared with the public. The chief says once he selects someone to come in and evaluate the program, it will take about 45 days to complete and cost a few thousand dollars.

WPD’s K-9 unit is made up of five dogs, including the one involved in this incident. Evangelous says the evaluation will determine if that is the right number for the department to have.


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ONLY ON 3: Up on a rooftop snowboarding in Wilmington

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For Wilmington resident Drew Salley this was the perfect party. You could say perfect storm as well.

Salley hosted a rooftop outing with his friends and neighbors on a cold wintry Wednesday in Wilmington. Mother nature was responsible most of the snow. Salley has the ability to make snow in these conditions as well.

“We just had a good time,” Salley said. “We took a couple of pipe fittings, a snowmaker, an air compressor and a compressor washer. That’s it? As easy as that.”

Some roof snow stunts are worthy of a big cheer. Some are not. Things don’t always go as planned.

“We often go to the mountains,” Ryan McInnis said. “For Wilmington this is about as good as it can get. This snow is crispy, but we dig an edge into it. We can build a jump and also do it safely.”

With safe being the key word. These guys don’t let everybody go rooftop, but they did let WWAY’s John Rendleman go down the conventional way.

Click the play video icon to see all of the rooftop fun. Special thanks to Alex Llinas, our roof snowboarder in red.


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Wilmington Chief Evangelous comments on K-9 investigation

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This is a copy of Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous’ notes regarding a recent K-9 internal investigation:

• On November 1st, we began an investigation into an incident involving one of our K9s and a K9 Officer. The matter was turned over to the SBI who after a lengthy investigation brought the case before the Grand Jury.

• On December 9th a New Hanover County Grand Jury convened and rendered a decision that the K9 officer’s actions were not criminal. We have supported that decision.

• On December 11th we started our own internal investigations into the incident to determine if any policies, procedures or matters of employee conduct were in question. After numerous interviews and hundreds of investigative hours we have now concluded our internal investigation and have taken appropriate action.

Officer Stafford Brister remains an active member of the Wilmington Police Department. He will remain assigned to the Patrol Services Bureau as a Patrol Officer. His date to return to work has not been determined at this time.

State personnel laws preclude me from releasing any additional personnel information therefore I will not discuss the internal investigation.

These investigations are never easy. They impact the agency, they affect our relationship with the community and they challenge the public’s trust. I am mindful and sensitive to the concerns of our community. No one can forget the troubling visions of canine attacks during the Civil Rights Movement. I am also mindful of the pressure and strain these incidents bring to our officers and their families. However, I am committed to conducting thorough investigations and will take the appropriate action when necessary.

Now the question is where do we go from here?

There are three parts to this incident:
• The first was the SBI investigation that was called for by me and District Attorney Ben David. That inquiry has addressed any potential criminal conduct.
• The second investigation was the internal investigation conducted by the Department to review any potential policy violations or training issues. We have now concluded that investigation.
• The third is a Department of Justice Investigation which is completely separate from ours. Any inquiries into that investigation must be directed to the FBI.

Our agency is in full cooperation with the FBI and will assist in any way necessary to bring this matter to a close.

I want to personally thank my command staff and our Internal Affairs Unit. These individuals have spent countless hours conducting this investigation and for that we are grateful.

Whenever an incident happens and especially when investigations are conducted it’s important for us as leaders to take an in-depth look into our practices, procedures, policies and training. It’s important for us to ask productive questions that will help us to become better at what we do. With that in mind we are evaluating our K9 program. We are currently working to bring in a United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) expert to review our current K9 practices. This individual will work closely with our K9 unit and provide any observations and recommendations to me for consideration. These recommendations will be made public.

The K9 unit will continue to respond to calls, assist with searches, make public appearances and assist as they have always done. The K9 unit is an important part of our law enforcement family.

From 2012 -2013 our K9 unit:
• Seized more than $200,000 in cash
• Seized more than 11,000 bindles of heroin
• Recovered several handguns
• Each of our canines are Certified through the USPCA

We are proud of the canines in our force and appreciate the service they render to our community.

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