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D.A., council providing haven for lawbreakers to disrespect Christianity, authority, FOP chief says
Thursday, 15 July 2021 22:39

Asheville, touting itself for years as a politically progressive city, “always” has had some people “who have no respect for authority, for law enforcement, for Christianity and for the church,” local Fraternal Order of the Police President Rondell Lance said in an interview with the Daily Planet on July 10.

His comments were in response to questions from the newspaper stemming from revelations of the recent desecration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue outside of the St. Lawrence Basilica in downtown Asheville.

“And we’ll always have that. We’ve dealt with that for years downtown. Vandalism has always been a problem — in West Asheville and downtown,” Lance added. The Asheville native, who retired in 2014 after 26-1/2 years in law enforcement, now leads the local FOP that represents around 250 local officers.

“In my opinion, it (the Jesus statue’s desecration) comes from a a group that just has no respect” for anything — or anyone, Lance asserted.

Then, in a verbal jab at Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams, Lance told the Daily Planet, “The DA’s office is hurting the victims of crime — and emboldening the perpetrators of crime” in the city and county.

“You see a lack of respect now. When you get to a point of where you’re doing something to a religious symbol and in the disrespect they had for the police downtown,” such as throwing frozen water bottles at APD members, was beyond contempt, in his estimation.

After a pause, he added, “The consideration now is .. you can’t work with them”  — the self-proclaimed social justice warriors. “If you don’t agree with them,” they not only will not consider cooperation, but they will actively cause even more problems.

“It seems like now it’s gone to a level of total respect for religion, law and order, law enforcement... Usually (in the past), they’d be mean-but-respectful, if you caught them. Now they’re mean and remain disrespectful.”

Lance added, “Criminals know, like everybody else, what’s going on” around Asheville and with the staffing crisis at the APD.

“They know what’s going on with the ‘Defund the Police” movement in Asheville. “They know there’s a war against law enforcement and Christianity. With our district attorney’s office, they know they can” do whatever they want without consequences.

 More specifically, Lance asserted, “People know the court will dismiss it or throw it out — the DA’s office just dismisses it. Law enforcement does their job, but when you have that attitude, it’s a good time to be a criminal in Buncombe County.

'The DA’s office is very lenient, very dismissive. He (Williams) is dismissing cases of people attacking police officers.”

To that end, Lance said he knows of a case ofa one APD officer who was in the hospital after being attacked by a suspect and “an assistant DA plea-bargained — in a blatant lie to the judge — to get him out. He should have been (judged) a habitual felon. He was known to be violent and a sexual predator. Less than a year  later, he sexually assaulted someone here and went to jail” in that case. Lance said he does not know if the assailant is out of jail again.

The FOP chief reiterated to the Daily Planet that “the DA’s office is out of control. They’re dismissing cases left and right,” following the agenda of far-left Democrats

To his chagrin, Lance noted that, “in the last election, no Republican won. The (Democrats’ political) ‘machine’ controls everything in Asheville and Buncombe. And so we have that mindset where they get people elected as DA, so they control” everything and there is no opposing party holding any power to challenge anything. So those with a far-left mindset control the Asheville area” politically with absolute authority.

As a result, Lance contended, “Maintaining law and order (in Asheville) is being done away with. Law enforcement officers see that and know that. They know the DA’s office and their staffs — the city offices and their staffs — the county offices and their staffs. And that’s why they’re leaving.”

He lamented that, at least in Asheville and Buncombe, “conservative voices won’t get out and vote,” leaving the Democrats with absolute power and the residents with no checks and balances on the government.

Lance then reiterated, “The DA’s office reflects that far-left, progressive thing that we’re seeing across America — no consequences for criminal action. If they could,” the DA would allow “no bond. The Buncombe DA’s office has a record of dismissing cases when people attack law enforcement. They’re plea-dealing and dismisisng the cases.”

After another pause, Lance noted, “Just for the record, I’m a registered Democrat. Many of my Democratic friends feel the same way” that Lance does — that far-left radicals have taken over the party.

The FOP chief also pointed out that “there are more independents than Republicans registered in Buncombe County — you’d think that (the independents) would be a strong voice in the area,” but that, in his view, has not been the case.

 “We all know Asheville has long been far-left... I ran as a Democrat for sheriff” a few years ago. “I was told by Republicans that ‘you couldn’t run in Buncombe County as a Republican — and win.’

“They (the far-left Democrats) are in full control. They get out. They work. They go door-to-door. And the conservative voices in Buncombe County — they don’t have that. They don’t organize. They don’t get people out to vote. 

“Without a strong conservative leader of the Republican Party of Buncombe County, I don’t see them going anywhere. (Glenda P. Weinert was elected chair of the Buncombe GOP in March.)

In contrast, Lance said, “You have to credit the Democrats. They’re very well-organized. They have enough money. And they know how to win elections. They work as one. They’re a very well-organized machine.”

So does Lance think nonstop chaos is overwhelming the APD and that crime in Asheville is out of control?

“It’s not so much that they (the APD) are overwhelmed and there’s continuous chaos,” Lance told the Daily Planet. “The tools to handle it and take care of it have been taken away from the officers. They’re not overwhelmed — they can handle it. They know what’s going on.”

He then listed the following as the top “tools” taken away from the APD:

• “Having to work without people to be there for backup — in the past, we could be more proactive,” knowing there was backup officers who could be called.

• Having to work “without the support from the community and the DA’s office — they (APD officers) do not trust this district attorney ... and they do not trust his staff.”

• “Schedules are terrible… they (APD officers) need more ‘four days on/four days off’ schedules, etc., for quality of life” — and the APD needs to set “a standard for tactical communications.”

Lance then reiterated that, in Ashevlle, “It’s disrespect for religion and Christianity” that is causing vandalism, such as was inflicted upon the Jesus statue outside the basilica. “You see that mindset across the nation” in so-called progressive cities. “You thought you’d never see that in the Bible Belt....

“As far as the criminal aspect of it, if I’d seen that happen six or seven years ago, I wouldn’t see that as much of a sign of crime being out of hand, but as a disrespect for Christianity. First, there’s the officer shortage, and second, the DA’s office” that, he contended, rarely prosecutes anyone.

What’s more, Lance said, “The criminals think the community doesn’t like the (Asheville) police,” as they notice the popularity of the Defund the APD movement — “and the difference between the past and now ... that they’re not being held accountable.”

“The DA’s not standing behind the police. If you’re a criminal and look at this environment, you’d say, ‘Hey, I’d take more of a chance’” than usual on breaking the law because there are no consequences, Lance said.

(The Daily Planet contacted the district attorney’s office on July 12 to give Williams an opportunity to respond to Lance’s criticisms, but a spokeswoman there said he was out of town on a trip and would not be able to respond in time — within an hour — for the newspaper’s tight press deadline. The newspaper will follow up with Williams to publish his response — if any — in the next edition.)

Continuing, Lance reiterated, “I wouldn’t say ‘nonstop chaos’ and ‘overwhelming of APD’ or that ‘crime is out of control.’ They (the APD) just can’t do what they could do because of a staffing shortage, the DA’s policies and City Council’s tying their hands.”

Further, he said, “Outside (law enforcement) agencies have said they’re not sending their men into Buncombe County unless it’s very, very serious because of this Buncombe County district attorney — and the (Asheville) City Council.

“They feel like the DA’s office and City Council — in Asheville — are trying their best to find officers (committing a misstep) and make them an example — and to hinder law enforcement. We (the APD) don’t mind being under a microscope, that’s our job.

“But, when it’s a political agenda looking extra hard and trying to find and make a law enforcement officer look bad, the DA and other officials’ attitude — in Lance’s view — seems to be, “‘Let’s work on that. Let’s dismiss and plea-deal with criminals. Don’t look at what the criminals are doing — let’s see what the officers’ reaction was to that.’ They feel like there’s a (need for a) hunt to come after law enforcement.

“They’re trying their best to belittle and destroy law enforcement,” Lance said.

When pressed for a comparison between the APD and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, Lance said the APD has a more difficult job because “in the Asheville area, you’ve got a lot more concentration of people, aggravating each other” than in the county. In the city, “lots of people (are) coming in from out of state — and lots are living on the streets.”

Lance said he knows — as FOP chief —  from his inside contacts in the APD that the Asheville officers feel “that the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is great to work with.”

And what is Lance’s view of Councilwoman Kim Roney, who is the most vocal proponent on council of ‘Defund the APD?’”

“We know Kim — and we know her agenda,” Lance replied. “I was glad to see Councilwoman (Antanette) Mosley kind of confronted her at the last council meeting — and kind of shut her down. When you vote against ballistic (bullet-proof) vests for law enforcement, that shows you the mindset of Kim Roney — she’s trying” to lead the defund movement, “but I’m thankful for people like Ms. Mosley for standing agaunst her. 

“That was encouraging to a lot of law enforcement officers to see Ms. Mosley stick to the reality of what was happening with the ‘Defund the Police’ agenda that Ms. Roney was advocating. Oftentimes, the minority community are the ones who suffer (most) from the lack of law and order in the community — and the lack of law and order presence,” Lance pointed out.
— By JOHN NORTH/Daily Planet



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