After months of study and countless hours of discussion and debate, the Citizens Task Force on crime has presented its report. The report, unfortunately, confirms what many of us have been saying for far too long – in Mecklenburg County, the criminal justice system is badly broken and in immediate need of repair.
Crime in Charlotte has become an expensive circus with the performers consisting of a long-term criminal, the police making an arrest and the courts putting the criminal back on the streets. A fresh act of this production begins every day.
To mitigate public anger over being little more than victims of the system, our elected officials appointed a group of citizens to “study” the issue and submit recommendations, again! It makes one wonder what became of the recommendations of past citizen commissions which also met, studied and recommended.
Duly consider recommendations
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This is not in any way to criticize the efforts of this most recent task force. These citizens gave up time with their families and worked hard to do the job they were appointed to do – study the system and make recommendations for action. They deserve our thanks. They also deserve something else. Their recommendations deserve sincere consideration by our elected officials who assigned them to the job in the first place.
Some of the items recommended will cost money. It is seldom possible to accomplish anything worthwhile without a financial commitment. But how much does it cost us to ignore the problems? How long can we as a community continue to tolerate career criminals whose actions endanger our lives, damage or steal our property and rob us of the ability to enjoy living in this city?
With one notable exception I find the 16 recommendations to be reflections of what some of us have advocated for years. That one exception requires some clarification: I do not believe that we need to hire anyone to fill the role of “crime czar”!
Our criminal justice system is already overburdened with upper level bureaucrats. We already have a lot of highly compensated people whose job is to process criminals through the system and ensure that they are locked away from society for a given period of time. The problem seems to stem from some of those people not doing that job, not from a lack of knowing what to do or even how to do it.
A better answer is to hold those people accountable! If they don't do the job, we need to allow them to find something more suited to their talents, thank them for the efforts and send them on their merry way.
Stop sniping at chief
One item not on the list of recommendations but one that I would like to add is to stop the counterproductive sniping at our new chief of police over his educational credits. Rodney Monroe submitted his resume in good faith. Our officials reviewed and considered numerous applications for the job and wisely, in my opinion, selected Monroe.
In the short time he has been on the job he has demonstrated a keen grasp of what needs doing and he has acted forthrightly to make needed changes. For goodness sake, allow the man to get on with the job and give him time to work out the details of his degree. Obviously he wanted to earn such a degree as he initially began his studies long before he ever came to this city.
In the past we have had some highly educated people who simply could not do the job. We still have, again rather obviously, some highly educated people who either can't or aren't doing the job. Job performance should be the number one criterion in evaluating an employee and, in my opinion Chief Monroe is at the top of the heap.
The Citizens Task Force has done its job. We should thank the members for their efforts.
Beyond that we need to let our elected officials know, in no uncertain terms, that we expect action in putting a stop to the revolving door of crime that brings shame on our city. It is past time to say, “Enough is enough. We're not going to take it anymore.”
If we mean it and if we pay attention to either action or inaction we too can make a difference. Let's get on with the job at hand!