Don't blame police for Charlotte's crime problem

From Julie Eiselt, founder of Neighbors For A Safer Charlotte:

While it was hopeful to see The Observer dedicate so much space to the issue of neighborhood crime prevention (in an article Monday), I fear you are missing the point and providing the public with false hope. Security cameras and private security guards are expensive solutions to fighting crime and offer marginal, if any, results. Criminals know they can get away with brazen acts. The real issue is that crime does pay here, and often goes unpunished. The criminals know this best.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says only 1 percent of criminal arrests result in prosecution. Chief Rodney Monroe said arrestees have laughed in the face of arresting officers, knowing they will soon be back on the streets.

When a felon commits another crime, federal guidelines can be swiftly enacted. But criminals need to be prosecuted in the first place or they never reach the status of felon. In Mecklenburg, most cases are plea-bargained and most gun-related arrests don't result in felony convictions.

In a robbery or a burglary, the evidence of a security camera tape is valuable only if the criminal is caught in the act. Last December, a man tried to kidnap me at the YMCA. The man was caught on the Y's security camera approaching my car and leaving my car. The police were certain they knew who the man was, but said the district attorney's office would never use the security tape as evidence. The DA rejected my case, for “lack of evidence,” freeing this man to roam the streets. Four days later, he kidnapped another woman.

Crime here is getting worse because criminals are going unpunished. Marcus Kennedy, the man who last month was charged with abducting the 12-year-old child as she waited for her school bus, had over 30 arrests, including sexual assault of a child. He had served less than 24 months.

Of course residents are free to do what they need to do to make themselves feel safer. But we also need to understand that it is the very system that should protect us that is arguably creating more crime. We need to demand that our district attorney and local government leaders address the systemic problems head on, or “Fortress Charlotte” will not be a city that anyone wants to come to – or stay in.