Southern Mecklenburg's three police divisions will step up street patrols and overnight staffing under new Chief Rodney Monroe's plan to reorganize the department.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police captains in the Independence, South and Steele Creek divisions said they're pleased with the chief's decision to boost the number of patrol officers countywide and put more seasoned personnel on street patrols. The plan, which will take effect on Saturday, also makes division commanders more accountable for reducing crime.
“We are simply narrowing our focus to the response-area level so that we can better manage our resources and have more accountability,” said Capt. John Williams Jr. of the Steele Creek Division. “…Each division has its own specific crime trends and we will have the flexibility to address our specific needs within the divisions.”
The changes come after a rise in crime in the first five months of this year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Violent crime rose 8.4 percent over the same period last year, and property crime went up 9.7 percent. There also was a 27.3 percent rise in thefts from autos and a greater number of violent armed robberies.
“I think it's a great idea to get more police presence out there because it will mean a reduction in crime,” said Mary Cerbie of south Charlotte. “It will be good to see more police out in neighborhoods, developing relationships with people the way they did when I was growing up.”
The Independence Division will get the biggest personnel boost in southern Mecklenburg under the chief's plan. It will gain two sergeants, four patrol officers, a traffic officer and two burglary detectives.
“I'm elated about this,” said Capt. Craig “Pete” Davis, who supervises the busy division in southeast Charlotte. He said the new system will give him more autonomy and flexibility in responding to his division's particular needs.
The Independence Division covers 20 square miles and has a strong commercial presence, especially along Independence Boulevard, plus residential areas. It's divided into three response areas and has three work shifts.
The South Division will gain nine officers; Steele Creek, eight. In both, captains said they're heavily focused on reducing property crimes.
Chief Monroe has also added “response area commander” positions for each response area within each division. Sergeants will fill that role, supervising officers in the field and responding to crime trends. The captains in southern Mecklenburg agreed that this will free them up to better manage their divisions.
“Having RACs assigned to each response area is an excellent idea and will be a major factor in reducing crime and quality-of-life issues,” said Davis, of the Independence Division.
In the South Division, the addition of RACs will help focus resources more effectively, said Capt. Roderick Golding.
“Instead of one person responsible for 130,000 residents over a 60-square-mile area, there will now be a person held accountable for 45,000 residents in a 20-square-mile area.”