To solve cases, Charlotte’s police let prisoners play ‘victim cards’

CMPD made these cards for use by prisoners.
CMPD made these cards for use by prisoners. WBTV

When it comes to stopping crime, one of the best sources of information is usually secreted away among criminals. How can police get that information they need to close cases? A new idea has surfaced at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Because inmates often spend time playing cards, CMPD Sgt. Darrell Price thought he would print the faces of murder victims on playing cards in the hope offenders might be willing to pass on pertinent information to Crime Stoppers. The first decks he ordered have 26 faces. They’re all murder victims, both current and cold cases.

“We chose these victims – and it’s not that they’re more important – that we have in the city. We have well over 600 open homicides in the city,” said Price. “This is just a starting point.”

“Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department is allowing us to do this,” said CMPD Detective Tori Roddey, “and we’re very thankful, allowing us to put these in the pods, which will hopefully lead to some of these cases being solved by some of the local offenders who may know what we call ‘the word on the street.’ 

Aiding Price with the graphic design of the cards was volunteer Sarah Savicki, who says she was moved by the faces she saw over and over.

“These pictures represent someone’s mother, father, sister, brother,” Savicki said. “I can’t imagine what that would be like for the family.”

And as much as Savicki likes what she and Price have created, she sees a higher purpose.

“I’m very proud, but I want to see justice for the families.”

The cards have a victim’s face on the front and the Crime Stoppers logo and phone number on the back.

But will an inmate get paid who passes on a successful tip to Crime Stoppers? The answer is yes. CMPD believes paying for information that solves a case is well worth the price.

WBTV is the Observer’s news partner.