University City

Police captain of University City works to bring community together

When you meet Todd Garrett, you meet a man with purpose. He takes his job seriously.

He was recognized for that and other qualities when he was named the 2013 Officer of the Year recently.

“I’m honored and humbled to serve the University City area, but I do it with love and passion,” said Garrett. “I’m trying to make a difference and affect people in a positive way.”

Shortly after he was named University City division captain for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, Garrett spoke at a news conference to educate the public about a campaign to prevent thefts from autos.

As part of that campaign, crime prevention materials have been distributed to hotel and restaurant operators. Tags were distributed for automobile owners to put in their cars to warn potential thieves that there is nothing to steal inside the vehicle.

Garrett thinks people underestimate the lure of stealing from cars. He wants drivers to know that even the little change you may have in a cup holder can attract thieves.

“They will do $500 damage for your GPS,” Garrett said. He strongly encouraged citizens to take a positive approach to reduce their chances of becoming a victim.

The anti-larceny campaign is just one of many projects the University City division plans to launch this year.

Garrett started his career in law enforcement in 1986 with the Charlotte Airport Police. He transferred to the Mecklenburg Police department in 1988 (the city and county police merged in 1993). With CMPD, Garrett served in a variety of capacities as he moved up the ranks.

Previously, he worked in the Hickory Grove and Providence divisions. He supervised the school resource officers, worked with burglary investigations and served as an anti-gang sergeant.

Before coming to the University City division, Garrett was a lieutenant in Response Area 1 (North Tryon Street area). On March 8 he was promoted to captain.

When asked about goals, Garrett said, “It’s simple: Our job is to work with the community to improve quality-of-life issues.” He stressed the importance of listening to the community and allowing them to be stakeholders.

“When you reduce crime,” he said, “you take care of quality-of-life issues.”

Garrett said his division would continue to identify locations of crime problems and work with the communities affected by the crime.

“We need to think outside the box and look at the drivers of the specific problems,” he said. He is also concerned about the potential crime opportunities that empty stores present; the area has a growing list of empty store sites.

“The empty boxes become a problem, because vandalism becomes a concern,” Garrett said, “and our officers have to check on them.”

His division plans to work with business leaders on shoplifting, which is a the growing problem in University City. “We will also focus on robberies,” he said. “We plan to look at each robbery and see what we can do to prevent them from happening again.”

Garrett repeatedly cited a serious need for the community to be engaged.

The Charlotte native said his passion for his family and his Christian beliefs come before his chosen profession. He is married with one child. Family time is very important to him.

Another of his loves is bicycle riding. For each of the past six years, he has ridden his bike to Washington, D.C., to honor fallen police officers. The trip is about 500 miles and takes four days.

“I’m proud and honored to do that every year,” said Garrett. “We should never forget the sacrifice of fallen officers. Some of them were very dear friends, and this is my way of honoring their families.”

The previous captain of the University City division, now Major Freda Lester, said of Garrett: “He knows how to build partnerships within any division to ensure all the voices are heard. He has a strong background in bringing citizens together to identify and address concerns. I wish him all the best in taking the University City division and the community to the next level of bridging gaps. He is very capable.”