The National Association of Counties (NACo) granted Buncombe County a 2014 Achievement Award for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office Community Oriented Problem Solving (COPS) program in the category of Criminal Justice and Public Safety. The Sheriff’s Office COPS program was one of 17 programs in the nation to be honored in this category, and the only criminal justice and public safety program in North Carolina to receive recognition. The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office utilizes this problem solving based approach to address issues in specific communities. Each COPS Team works in a particular community for 30 days, identifying key issues, speaking with community leaders and residents in the community, creating an action plan, and then presenting their findings and suggestions to the community at the end of the 30 day period.
“The COPS team program engages the community so they can help the Sheriff’s Office better direct its resources in solving neighborhood problems,” Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan stated. “Every COPS team has closed open breaking and entering cases, engaged in clean-ups of areas that draw criminal activity and reduced the calls for service in the particular area they are working in; it also gives a structured way to report back to the community about the progress that was made.”
The National Association of Counties annual Achievement Award Program began in 1970. The program is a non-competitive awards program that recognizes innovative county government programs. Each application is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received. Awards are given in 21 different categories including children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, environmental protection, information technology, health, and many more. The goals of these awards are to recognize innovative programs that modernize county governments and increase services to county residents.