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Retiring Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe reflects on initiatives that reduced crime

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe speaks at Hood Hargett Breakfast Club luncheon at the Palm Restaurant in Phillips Place Thursday, June 4, 2015
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe speaks at Hood Hargett Breakfast Club luncheon at the Palm Restaurant in Phillips Place Thursday, June 4, 2015 dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

In one of his last speeches before retiring, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe said the department has made significant strides in the past seven years and reiterated his hope that the city would appoint an internal candidate to replace him.

Monroe, who’s headed CMPD since 2008, spoke at the monthly Hood Hargett Breakfast Club luncheon at the Palm Restaurant in Phillips Place. He has said he would retire effective July 1. The crime rate has ticked down during Monroe’s tenure, and last year Charlotte saw its lowest homicide total since the 1970s.

The chief credited several initiatives with bringing down crime:

▪ Reorganizing the police department. Shortly after taking over, Monroe decentralized the department, reassigning nearly 90 officers from specialized units to patrol. With an expanded force, he split each division into three response areas, ultimately making a lieutenant responsible for each area.

“We were creating an environment where every division could stand on its own as a mini police department,” he said. “If you have a problem, you don’t need to call Rodney Monroe, there’s one person you can call. ... That has allowed us to be more responsive to our community.”

▪ Increased use of technology. The department now has access to 600 camera feeds across the city. Officers work with the court system to track roughly 300 crime suspects via electronic monitoring.

“We asked ourselves how do we take advantage of the technology that is out there that allows us to increase our scope,” Monroe said. “We had already taken action to buy cameras. The DNC really allowed us to put that program on steroids and gear toward a system with more technology.”

▪ Increased emphasis on smaller crimes. Monroe said the department made more of an effort to prevent and solve crimes that affect a large swath of Charlotteans, such as car break-ins.

“When I first came here, it wasn’t about the shootings and the killings and the robberies,” Monroe said. “People were more concerned about having their cars broken into, having their homes broken into and having a sense that we were not going to care about it.”

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Twitter: @CleveWootson

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