After PCU employee’s arrest, county administrator to update leaders on anti-violence department

Port City United includes three main areas of focus to help curb violence in the community:

Stephen Barnett was the supervisor of the latter division, whose goal is to reduce gun violence by sending “violence interrupters” into the community to help intervene in conflicts. The program has involved hiring former gang members to intercede before something turns into a shooting. Barnett admitted in 2017 to being part of the Bloods when he was 15 years old; although it is unclear whether the affiliation is still in force today.

His employment with the county was terminated after Barnett’s arrest Monday night for complicity in attempted murder. The Wilmington Police Department alleges that Barnett drove a 17-year-old boy involved in the March 21 shooting of Houston Moore away from the scene in a county-owned vehicle.

Coudriet suspended the mediation and outreach division and placed its 10 employees on paid administrative leave on Tuesday, March 27. The county did not respond to how much they were paying cumulatively or how much money it had allocated to PCU in the 2024-2025 budget.

The county promised him nearly $40 million in 2022, to be paid over four years; to date it has funded approximately $6.3 million. It has been funded by multiple county revenue sources, including the sale of the hospital, the income stabilization fund and the American Rescue Plan Act, the latter of which expires at the end of this year.

Some commissioners have already spoken out against keeping the program, including Dane Scalise and LeAnn Pierce. Both told Port City Daily the money is better spent on the shortfall facing New Hanover County Schools in their next budget.

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