Politics & Government

Why Charlotte police will give up some patrol areas to Mecklenburg’s towns

Mecklenburg County commissioners approved a nearly $2 billion budget that includes a tax hike for most property owners that was proposed by County Manager Dena Diorio (right).
Mecklenburg County commissioners approved a nearly $2 billion budget that includes a tax hike for most property owners that was proposed by County Manager Dena Diorio (right). dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Mecklenburg County has reached a deal for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police to patrol rural areas surrounding Charlotte, Mint Hill and Davidson, ending months of negotiating over whether CMPD was doing a good job in outlying areas.

In April, frustrated commissioners voted to terminate a contract between the county and CMPD to patrol all areas of the county that were unincorporated, or that didn’t belong to a city or town. About 60,000 residents live in unincorporated parts of the county.

Their decision was mostly driven by Huntersville, which wanted to patrol outlying areas near the town itself. At the time, Huntersville Police Chief Cleveland Spruill said, “for $3 million we can do a much better job than what’s being done now.”

As the city and county negotiated, the county considered having the Sheriff’s Office patrol the rural areas. But commissioners decided to mostly stick with CMPD, while having some towns handle policing for rural residents who live near their town limits.

The new deal allows for Huntersville, Cornelius and Pineville to provide police services to rural areas outside their town limits. Matthews doesn’t have any unincorporated areas that are assigned to the town. Mecklenburg County will pay those towns to provide police service for the unincorporated residents nearby.

Under the old agreement, which was in place since 1996, CMPD patrolled all unincorporated areas for $18 million. Under the new deal, CMPD will receive $14 million a year from residents near Charlotte, Mint Hill and Davidson.

Those residents will continue to pay higher property taxes for the police service.

The new deal lasts five years and goes into effect next year. The deal calls for the CMPD chief to give the county a report twice a year on the crime rate in unincorporated areas, how many police are patrolling and response time.

Commissioners unanimously approved County Manager Dena Diorio’s plan Tuesday night.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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