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Democrat-run tourist town in NC sees violent crime spike as police dwindle: 'Perfect storm'

Bet you can't guess which town!

And this was reported on Fox News, no less! Asheville, North Carolina, has seen a 31% surge in violent crime within five years

Asheville, North Carolina — Multiple local law enforcement sources who spoke to Fox News Digital laid partial blame for the deteriorating condition of a North Carolina tourist town on the city's liberal political leadership and on left-wing activists who undermine police.

"I think what you're seeing in Asheville right now is a culmination of the last several years of pulling police back and not letting them do their jobs like they're able to do," former Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan told Fox News Digital in a phone interview.

Asheville, a city of approximately 90,000 people nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Buncombe County, North Carolina, has seen a 31% surge in violent crime per 100,000 people from 2016 to 2020, according to statistics released in the spring. Asheville's growth in violent crime is nearly double that of the national average and ranks among the highest in North Carolina, where violent crime has increased 13% statewide.

Asheville has so far seen 11 homicides in 2022, setting it on pace to surpass the homicide rate of 2021 and 2020. Rates of homelessness have increased 21% since 2021, according to data released in May. There is also evidence of increased Mexican drug cartel activity in the area, according to multiple law enforcement sources who spoke to Fox News Digital.

Both the Asheville Police Department (APD) and the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department have been hemorrhaging officers in recent years, with many retiring early or simply quitting. APD made international headlines in June 2021 when they announced they would no longer respond in-person to 911 calls about theft, fraud or trespassing after losing a third of their force.

‘Downhill quickly’

Duncan, who was a longtime registered Democrat, retired as sheriff and became politically unaffiliated in 2018, citing "an anti-law enforcement sentiment in the Democratic Party right now," according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. He told Fox News Digital that police who do wrong must be held accountable, but also said officers both locally and around the country have become hesitant to do their jobs "because they can be right, but it can be the wrong set of facts, and they can still wind up in trouble."

Duncan further noted that when he was serving as county sheriff, "left-wing activists" from outside the community would sweep in to disrupt community meetings. "They would really try to get into it with the police, and a lot of times, they would try to shout down things," he said. "And the first people who quit coming to those meetings were the people within the community. They really didn't get to speak, and they really didn't get anything done."