Mecklenburg to let Cornelius respond to 911 calls on Lake Norman

Mecklenburg County has agreed to let the town of Cornelius respond to 911 calls on Lake Norman that were previously handled by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, County Manager Dena Diorio said Wednesday.

Cornelius has complained for years about slow and even no response by CMPD to some 911 calls on North Carolina’s largest man-made lake.

Town officials most recently cited CMPD’s lack of response when a boat crashed into a dock off Nantz Road in Cornelius on the night of July 29. The boater, a 60-year-old Huntersville man, had suffered a heart attack and died.

Diorio said she and other government officials have met since summer about the town’s concerns. Charlotte Mayor Don Clodfelter, Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis and other officials back the “agreement in principle” that has been reached, she said.

As part of the agreement, Cornelius will respond to all calls within 15 minutes, Diorio said.

“At the end of the day, public safety is No. 1,” Diorio told the Observer. “We want to provide the same if not a superior level of service.”

Diorio announced at Tuesday night’s Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners meeting that the agreement in principle had been reached. Officials still have to draft the agreement, which then needs to be approved by the Mecklenburg County and Cornelius boards of commissioners and Charlotte City Council, she said, adding that could take a couple more months.

Diorio said the county has agreed to give Cornelius $217,000 that normally went to CMPD, and another $150,000 to Cornelius from the county’s law enforcement district fund. Cornelius has agreed to contribute $207,000 for lake enforcement, she said.

CMPD will maintain its daily presence at the lake, she said, providing mutual aid response, the SWAT team and other services it’s always given the area. CMPD will continue to respond to any emergency at McGuire Nuclear Station, she said. The plant is on Lake Norman off N.C. 73 in Huntersville.

CMPD Deputy Chief Eddie Levins took issue in May to complaints from Cornelius Police Chief Bence Hoyle that CMPD doesn’t place a priority on the lake. Travis also has complained about CMPD’s response time or lack of response to some calls.

“This is far from the truth and does not paint an accurate picture of CMPD’s presence on the lake,” Levins wrote in a memorandum to Police Chief Rodney Monroe.

The Observer obtained the letter as part of a public records request to CMPD for documents related to the department’s lack of response to the July 29 boating mishap.

“CMPD regularly works with Duke Energy, federal, state, and other local agencies to ensure that we are prepared to handle any emergency that may occur on Lake Norman,” Levins wrote.

“It’s wonderful,” Travis said. “We can provide 24-7, 365 coverage, where with CMPD, we never know where or when they’re on the lake. It’s great for everyone on the lake.”

Diorio said Mecklenburg County has invited government officials from around the lake to a briefing Monday about the agreement in principle.

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