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Commissioners approve transfer of lake patrol to Cornelius

2012 file – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's North Division-Lake Enforcement officers observe boaters gathered at the sandbar area of Lake Norman during Memorial Day 2012. Mecklenburg County commissioners approved the transfer of patrolling Lake Norman to the Cornelius Police Department.
2012 file – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's North Division-Lake Enforcement officers observe boaters gathered at the sandbar area of Lake Norman during Memorial Day 2012. Mecklenburg County commissioners approved the transfer of patrolling Lake Norman to the Cornelius Police Department. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Mecklenburg County commissioners on Tuesday formally approved the transfer of patrolling Lake Norman to the Cornelius Police Department – a move that has thwarted officials for years.

Under an interlocal agreement, Cornelius police will patrol all of Lake Norman in Mecklenburg, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police will continue to patrol McGuire Nuclear Plant and Cowans Ford Dam.

CMPD has patrolled all of Mecklenburg’s portion of Lake Norman since the 1980s, when development along the shoreline and recreational use dramatically increased.

“The town of Cornelius for a number of years has been asking for increased patrols,” said County Manager Dena Diorio, who led negotiations for the transfer. “They wanted a higher level of service, quicker response times. (CMPD Chief Rodney) Monroe ... felt that it was in the town’s best interest that they take it on.”

Cornelius commissioners approved the agreement Monday, and county commissioners unanimously approved it Tuesday. Charlotte City Council will vote on the measure Monday. If approved, Cornelius police will begin patrolling Mecklenburg waters July 1 – 365 days a year.

Cornelius, with the most shoreline in Mecklenburg, says the town’s response time on the lake will average 15 minutes; CMPD responded according to the severity of the call, Diorio said.

Talks began last August, when CMPD agreed to turn over the lake patrolling to Cornelius.

Other attempts to broker a transfer over the years have failed.

Commissioner Pat Cotham said she heard concerns about slow response times when she chaired the board two years ago.

“The people in northern Mecklenburg suffered,” she said. “They have wanted this for many years. Now they can sleep at night.”

The latest effort came when Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis reached out to current Chairman Trevor Fuller. Tuesday, Fuller praised Diorio for her work and the deal.

“It is a great example of how we can all work together across political lines and jurisdictional lines to get some pretty significant work done,” he said.

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