Sheriff won't help fund gang initiative

The Catawba County sheriff says he will not help fund a countywide gang initiative that has targeted dozens of violent offenders in the past two years.

Since 2009, the sheriff’s office has assisted Catawba County’s eight municipal police departments in facilitating the Catawba County Gang Initiative, which targets violent offenders on probation and offers them progressive programs in the community.

The initiative’s main cost is its coordinator, Charles Mackey, who is employed by the city of Hickory as a full-time crime analyst.

Prior to this year, funding for Mackey’s position and the Initiative itself came from a state grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission — a grant that all of Catawba County’s law enforcement agencies, including the sheriff’s office, applied for.

Now, with the grant set to expire June 30, the coordinator’s salary will fall on the county’s policing agencies, which agreed beforehand to fund the initiative for at least one additional year after the grant.

And while the various agencies put up some money for the program before, they will now pick up all of the cost. That is, except for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.

To read more of this story, pick up the weekend edition of Catawba County's community newspaper, The Observer News Enterprise, at newsstands throughout the county.