Monroe describes a decrease in crime

New policing strategies are driving down crime in Charlotte, police Chief Rodney Monroe told the City Council on Tuesday.

Monroe, who took office in mid-June amid concerns about a spike in city crime, said that in the past two months, crime has decreased across 11 of the city's 13 divisions.

Monroe presented graphs showing that overall crimes were 16 percent lower in July and August compared with the same months in 2007. That reverses a trend of rising crime since February.

The new chief said that, since he joined the department, each of the city's 39 response areas set goals for reducing crime. He said 33 of the areas met or exceeded those goals.

Monroe also spoke about a restructuring plan that calls for putting more officers on patrol. Beginning Saturday, he is moving 89 officers from specialty units to patrol divisions.

“The primary focus of the (reorganization) is based on bringing a greater amount of resources and abilities back to the community and the neighborhoods,” he said.

Monroe will place sergeants in command of each of the city's 39 response areas. Currently, 13 captains oversee the areas. The sergeants will be responsible for monitoring their territories around the clock.

Monroe is breaking up several specialized units, including street crimes and an international liaison unit. He said the specialized crime-fighting will be more locally driven.

“It will be based on the problems that they encountered within that district,” he said.

Deputy Chief Ken Miller said that the approach has already helped the South division identify a crime organization involved in car break-ins.

“It all began with an investigation surrounding their focus area,” Miller said. He said response areas have focused on robbery, larceny from vehicles, burglary and car thefts.

Monroe made similar changes in Richmond, Va., where he was credited with a sharp drop in crime during his 31/2-year tenure.

The council members praised Monroe's service so far, noting that he had appeared at several crime scenes and meetings in the communities.

“The decrease of crime in the summer is very impressive,” said Mayor Pro Tem Susan Burgess.

Council members and Mayor Pat McCrory encouraged the department shakeup. “If you're going to make changes, do it while you're on your honeymoon,” McCrory said.

Other highlights of Monroe's plan:

A new gun unit. “We have far too much gunplay within the city,” Monroe told the City Council.

A larger gang unit. It will be nearly doubled to more than a dozen officers.

A new youth crime unit that will focus on children who are victims of sexual assault or violence in the home.