Conway police launch neighborhood crime walks

akelley@thesunnews.comJanuary 24, 2013 

— Police and community members went door to door in the Taylor Square neighborhood off Hemingway Street in Conway Thursday night hoping to reduce crime in the area after recent shootings resulted in two homicides within 11 days .

Diane Davis lives on Hemingway Street and started the crime watch program about five years ago because she was worried about increased crime.

“We dug bullets at night, rolled off the bed because of all the gun shooting and the drugs,” she said. “I got out I walked I started the crime watch group. I had about 75 people, but I don’t know why they just fell off the face of the earth.”

Now, she said there are about seven people dedicated to the program, but it needs to be a bigger community effort and she thinks the neighborhood walk Thursday will be the start.

“I think from the start of this tonight when they see us walking through there they’re going to see that a change is beginning to come into Conway,” Davis said. “We’ve got to start working together. We’ve got to forget race and start thinking about these kids out here.”

More walks already are planned, with one in the Sugar Hill neighborhood on Jan. 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. That walk will start at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Ridge Street.

Sgt. Darren Alston is in charge of crime prevention for Conway police.

Though two homicides in less than two weeks prompted the walks, he said it’s important for the community to see the police do more than investigate crimes.

“We want to let them know that they’re going to see the police department before there’s a crime,” Alston said. “We want to hear what they have to say to us, what they want us to do and what they want help with. We’re coming before something bad happens again.”

The homicides that prompted the walks Thursday are still under investigation.

A 15-year-old boy was charged Jan. 11 with murder and two counts of attempted murder in a shooting that occurred about 2:30 p.m. Jan. 7 at a home in the 2000 block of Sixth Avenue in the city’s Sugar Hill community, police said. Sylvester Lorenzo Bell Jr., 36, of Conway died from a gunshot wound to the head and another man was shot in the leg during the incident.

On Dec. 27, on Ninth Avenue, Dwayne Gaghum, 53, was shot in the head and killed while driving a Dodge pickup truck that crashed into a home. At 3:30 p.m. that day, Conway police were called to Hemingway Street for a report of shots being fired, according to a press release. That afternoon, police said the incident was a traffic investigation and did not hint of suspecting foul play.

The next day, police said it was a homicide and the investigation continues.

No other details about either incident have been released.

Davis hopes bringing the community together can put a stop to the crime allowing people in the neighborhood to enjoy being outside on their property.

“Anything to clean up Hemingway Street where I live will be a pleasure,” she said. “Just to be able to sit on my porch. I try to keep my yard looking beautiful. I told the chief ‘I’m tired of sitting on my back porch, I want to sit on my front porch and enjoy my flowers.’”

Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.

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