12/22/20: SOUTHERN SHORES RANKED AMONG TOP 20 SAFEST TOWNS & CITIES IN NORTH CAROLINA. Plus Governor Says You Can Violate Curfew to Buy a ‘To Go’ Mixed Drink.

Southern Shores is the 18th safest city in North Carolina for 2020, according to a home security and safety advocacy website that we had never heard of until a publicist sent The Beacon an email about the town’s distinction. We thought we would share this news with you and let you assess its value, if any.

According to Safety.com, which claims to be an “independent review site,” Southern Shores ranked 22nd among the N.C. cities it surveyed for public safety and fourth overall for financial safety. These results, combined with the town’s rankings on natural-disaster safety and health safety, gave Southern Shores the 18th best score, it claims.

Carolina Beach is the only other N.C. beach town to break Safety.com’s top 20, although New Bern and Wilmington show up at No. 9 and No. 17, respectively.

Southern Shores also tied with No. 3 Huntersville, which is a town of lakefront homes and recreational opportunities on Lake Norman, for the second lowest poverty rate among the cities on Safety.com’s list, not all of which are not identified in its report.

See Safest Cities in North Carolina | Safety.com

Safety.com purportedly analyzed data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Census Bureau, The Insurance Journal, and The Gun Violence Archive, which is a non-profit research group that catalogs every incident of gun violence in the United States, as well as U.S. “health rankings” to derive its municipal “best-of” list. 

The criteria it assessed for a public-safety analysis, it says, included population-based data on property crime, violent crime, aggravated assaults, and hate crime, provided by the FBI, and officer-related shootings and mass shootings, as reported by The Gun Violence Archive.

Safety.com analyzed financial safety by calculating a town’s or city’s annualized median rent, unemployment rate, cost of living, and poverty rate, and the percentages of its employed and unemployed residents who reported not having health insurance.   

The top 10 safest cities in North Carolina, according to Safety.com’s analysis, are: 1) Cary; 2) Apex; 3) Huntersville; 4) Carolina Beach; 5) Mooresville; 6) Mocksville; 7) Pittsboro; 8) Fayetteville; 9) New Bern; and 10) Hickory.

In a press release datelined San Juan, Puerto Rico, the home security/safety advocate said it “offers reviews, recommendations and insights across multiple safety industries.” Its goal is “to make safety simple with trustworthy and accurate information, unique data, and easy-to-use tools.”

If you click on one of its advertising partners’ links on its website, Safety.com may receive a referral fee. It is fair to speculate that if you have “financial safety,” you may be more inclined to purchase a home-security system to protect it.

AS YOU MAY RECALL, JUST TWO MONTHS AGO, SOUTHERN SHORES POLICE CHIEF DAVID KOLE argued at the Town Council’s Oct. 20 budgetary and planning workshop that the Town needed to hire a new police officer during fiscal year 2020-21. (See The Beacon, 10/23/20, 11/1/20.)

Southern Shores “is not Mayberry” and needs two police officers on duty “with supervision” 24/7, Chief Kole maintained.

The additional officer, whose hiring was given a green light Oct. 20 by Mayor Tom Bennett’s pronouncement that a “consensus” existed on the Council for it, will bring the Southern Shores police complement to 13 officers, according to the Chief, who alluded during his workshop presentation to a study supporting the addition of two officers, not just one.

“It’s not Mayberry,” the Chief said then. “. . . Bad things can happen to police, and things have gotten worse over the last two to three years.”

Only not, as far as we can tell, in Southern Shores.

There are “a lot of arrests, a lot of drug work,” he explained, without offering any evidence of physical threats being made to, or violence committed upon, Southern Shores police officers.

Although the Chief emphasized the safety of police officers, he presented data at the workshop to suggest that the number of service calls the police handle justify two new hires. We would have liked to have seen a more detailed breakdown of the nature of those calls and their disposition. (See The Beacon, 11/1/20, for our critique.)

With 14 officers on the payroll, there would be 24/7 coverage of the town by two duty officers and a third person supervising, Chief Kole said, a goal he has had since he first started working for Southern Shores 14 years ago.

That is one police officer for every 208 residents, if you use Safety.com’s population figure for Southern Shores of 2,907.

Despite there being no critical discussion about the need for police force expansion and no formal vote, Mayor Bennett told Chief Kole at the workshop that a “consensus” exists among Town Council members “that we need another police officer.”

The Town Council made the hiring official when it unanimously approved at its Nov. 4 meeting a budget amendment for the position, which was part of its consent agenda.

Funding a new police officer for the remaining six months of the fiscal year will cost $43,521—money that will come from the Town’s Unassigned Fund Balance.

On a number of public occasions, Chief Kole has referenced the dangers that his officers confront, especially in their drug work, and has said, “It’s a different world out there right now” than the one he started in nearly 40 years ago.

Every officer on the Southern Shores police force now wears a body camera.

We would like to be enlightened some time by the Chief about this world, especially about the drug crimes occurring in Southern Shores and the risks posed to residents by this criminal activity.

Looking just at FBI statistics and The Gun Violence Archive’s records, Safety.com ranked Southern Shores among the safest places to live in North Carolina. What reason is there to believe otherwise?

COVID-19 UPDATE: Buying Mixed Drink Now a Legitimate Reason for Violating Curfew

The Beacon will be back tomorrow with a complete COVID-19 wrapup before we take an extended holiday break. For now we will write just a few words about the Governor’s latest brainstorm, which we are still trying to fathom.

You may have heard that Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order yesterday that authorizes ABC Commission-permitted sellers to sell “to-go orders” of mixed alcoholic beverages to purchasers for their off-premises consumption for as long as alcoholic beverages are permitted to be sold, which is 2 a.m. locally.

Sales of alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption must still cease at 9 p.m., but restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, certain distilleries—any Alcohol Beverage Control Commission permittee—now may sell one “to-go” mixed drink in a sealed container to a purchaser for his or her own off-premise consumption, either by pick-up or delivery service.

Executive Order 183 actually authorizes travel during the modified Stay at Home period for the purpose of buying a mixed drink! You can break curfew if you want to “take out” a Margarita or a vodka tonic. Can you imagine anything more ridiculous?

The EO takes effect at 5 p.m. today and continues through Jan. 31.

See EO183-Mixed-Beverages.pdf (nc.gov)

FAQs about the new executive order: EO 183 FAQ (nc.gov)

“This order,” the Governor said in a statement, “will help people avoid settings that can contribute to increased viral spread while giving restaurants and bars a financial boost that they need right now.”

The EO limits the number of mixed drinks that a purchaser may buy to one, but it specifies that this limit does not “prevent multiple people at the same address or multiple people in the same group from each being a purchaser and each ordering one mixed beverage.”

Good luck on enforcing this one.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 12/22/20

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