Frye: We have a crime problem

Republican candidate disputes sheriff’s claim that violent crime rate down 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. said last week that violent crime has dropped by 15 percent.

Bo Frye begs to differ.

Frye, a Republican candidate for sheriff in the Nov. 4 general election, aims to unseat Clemmons, a first-term Democrat. The two seek a four-year term in a position that has a base annual salary of $77,597.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Bo Frye, a Republican candidate for Richmond County sheriff, speaks to a small but friendly crowd Monday night at  the monthly meeting of the Richmond County Republican Club.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Bo Frye, a Republican candidate for Richmond County sheriff, speaks to a small but friendly crowd Monday night at the monthly meeting of the Richmond County Republican Club.

Both men have decades of law enforcement experience. Frye, 67, is a Richmond County native and after retiring from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, he returned to live in Hamlet.

On Monday, Frye spoke to a friendly — albeit small — crowd of supporters of the Richmond County Republican Party at Henry’s Uptown Cafe in downtown Rockingham. The building is owned by Iron Horse Marketing LLC. Tom McInnis, a Republican challenger to incumbent state Sen. Gene McLaurin, Democrat, for the District 25 seat, is part owner of that LLC.

Jane Moss, secretary, said the local chapter needed to get voters “fired up” in order for Republicans to retain or win Democrat-held seats on the local or state level. Her words fell on the ears of only 11 others. McInnis, Frye and County Commissioner Ben Moss, who’s running for re-election, were the only candidates in attendance.

Frye said he’s already been accused of running a negative campaign, but he countered that there’s not much positive to talk about while Clemmons is in office. The claim of a 15 percent decrease in violent crime, he said, “is false.” Frye referred to a Sept. 10 Post report through which the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Greensboro touted a 15 percent reduction in violent crime in conjunction with a news conference by Clemmons regarding a number of federal convictions of county criminals.

Frye said the most current data available is from 2012 and that “in those statistics, crime is still high in Richmond County.”

He cited Sperling’s Best Places as one source that indicated Richmond County residents aren’t safe. On a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the worst place to live, Richmond County scored a 61, Frye said. The national average is 41.

Frye referred to another crime statistics and gangs report that is “scathing,” but available data is limited.

“I have tried to get more information on the report,” he said, to no avail.

He said that report cites the FBI’s Unified Crime Report statistics that shows only 8 percent of Richmond County’s crime is resolved. That compares to 28.2 percent nationwide.

Frye also charged Clemmons and his deputies with failing to follow through with home invasions.

There’s no evidence, he said, that detectives are following up each incident.

“Call the victims,” he said of standard operating procedure. “Follow-up on those reports.”

He told of a business owner who, two years ago, suffered a break-in and lost a reported $40,000 in property. The incident had an eyewitness.

“No one from the sheriff’s department has interviewed that person today,” Frye said. “Law enforcement in North Carolina is taught the same way. So what are we doing? Who’s in charge? ”

Frye said UCR statistics show that Richmond County residents and business owners reported $3.5 million in crime-related property losses. That doesn’t include anything within the city limits of Rockingham or Hamlet.

“Of that, $425,000 (in property) was recovered,” Frye said. “We have a crime problem. We have a drug problem. So many of them are the same people and nobody seems to go to jail.”

Frye said the responsibility rests at the office of the elected sheriff, and it should be him, not Clemmons.

“Things need to change,” Frye said. “We deserve better than we’re getting.”

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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