North Carolina sheriff urges residents to arm themselves amidst rising crime (VIDEO)

With a recent spike in crime, a North Carolina sheriff is following suit of other law enforcement officials across the country by taking what some consider a controversial stance, encouraging area residents to arm themselves for their own protection, a local ABC affiliate reported.

The once rural area of Harnett County has seen a growth in population and with it, crime and violence have increased as well, with a dramatic surge over the last few weeks. In fact, crime has gotten so bad that some residents admit they’re afraid to leave their homes.

Sheriff Larry Rollins thinks the increase can be attributed to gangs and drugs, and in an attempt to combat the growing problem, about 100 people gathered at a local church for a community meeting Monday evening to discuss possible solutions.

One woman in attendance wants to believe that her faith is enough to give her peace – she goes to church and prays – but admits that she’s still afraid of the growing violence.

“I believe in God, but I am still afraid of what is going on,” said resident Lynda Jenks. “I am afraid to go off very far, for very long. I am afraid of break-ins. I am afraid.”

Most agree that local law enforcement are doing all they can to make the area safe, but sometimes it’s just not enough.

“I think they are working hard trying to get solutions for us which comforts us a little bit, but still, knowing it’s out there and knowing it happens every day, still doesn’t make you feel safe,” resident Jamie Salmon told reporters.

Even Rollins knows that officers can only do so much, and he offered the residents advice which he takes himself.

“When I am out with my family, even though I am a cop, I don’t go anywhere without a gun,” Rollins said during a speech at the meeting. “I mean it’s sad we have to have that attitude, but I am going to protect myself and my family. I want my deputies at your house just as fast as they can when you got a problem, but you better be able to take care of business until we get there if you have to protect your family.”

It’s a stance that other law enforcement have taken, some with great success. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke turned heads last year when he told residents in a public service announcement to arm themselves for their own protection instead of “simply calling 911 and waiting.”

Likewise, Detroit Police Chief James Craig dropped jaws when he announced a similar sentiment earlier this year. Soon thereafter, the city began to see week after week of armed citizens fighting back against criminals, then just last month Craig revealed that the city has seen a significant drop in robberies, break-ins and carjackings.