Elections

Peacock says fighting crime would be priority as Charlotte mayor

A Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer hands out flyers to people in the Springfield subdivision on Tuesday, September 8, 2015. Police were patrolling the area looking for assistance in solving a shooting on Saturday night at 6824 Fieldvale Drive that resulted in the death of seven-year old Kevin Antonio Calderon Rodas.
A Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer hands out flyers to people in the Springfield subdivision on Tuesday, September 8, 2015. Police were patrolling the area looking for assistance in solving a shooting on Saturday night at 6824 Fieldvale Drive that resulted in the death of seven-year old Kevin Antonio Calderon Rodas. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Republican mayoral candidate Edwin Peacock said Thursday he would create a task force to study ways to curtail violent crime, a problem he said Democrats who control City Council have ignored.

“The City Council isn't focused on real crime-fighting activities,” Peacock said.

Peacock said the council’s public safety committee has been debating issues such as predatory towing, food trucks and regulating Uber and Lyft.

“They need to focus on real crime,” he said.

If elected, Peacock said he would create a commission that would study how to reduce gang-related crime; reduce drugs and narcotics usage; and fight human trafficking.

Peacock will face either former County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts or Mayor Dan Clodfelter in the November general election. Roberts and Clodfelter, both Democrats, will compete in a run-off Tuesday.

Peacock said Roberts and Clodfelter haven’t addressed crime during the election, except for the community reaction to the mistrial of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall Kerrick, who was accused of killing an unarmed black man.

Violent crime is up in 2015 compared with a year ago. The city was also shocked by violence over Labor Day weekend, in which 12 people were shot. Five of them were killed.

“I haven’t heard them talk about that,” Peacock said. “The only subject has been Kerrick. It’s been dominant in the primary.”

He said he believes there is a morale problem at CMPD stemming from the decision to charge Kerrick in the 2013 shooting of Jonathan Ferrell.

“I think there are lingering issues, no question, given what occurred,” he said. “They don’t feel there is 100 percent confidence in the actions they might take.”

A key part of Peacock’s campaign has been taxes. He has criticized the council’s decision to raise taxes in 2013 and again this year.

Peacock said it’s possible the city needs additional police officers to lower the crime rate. In an interview with the Observer, he wouldn’t rule out getting new money to pay for additional police officers, saying the city’s “first priority is to protect.”

But he said it’s possible the city could hire new officers without having to raise taxes. He pointed to a debate last decade in which council Democrats and Republicans fought over whether a tax increase was needed to fund 50 new officers.

The public safety committee, while focusing on issues such as towing, has recently started debating what could be seen as a traditional anti-crime measure – the creation of so-called “Public Safety Zones.”

The zones would be established by CMPD chief Kerr Putney in high-crime areas. They would allow police to banish people with criminal records from the zones.

Peacock said he would want his commission to have recommendations within 100 days. He said the city has had similar task forces in the past that have been successful.

He said former Mayor Anthony Foxx, a Democrat, had created a group to examine the sustainability of the city’s pay plan for police and firefighters. That resulted in some reductions to the size of the step increases the public safety employees received.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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