Police set sights on keeping numbers low

Although statistics show burglary in the South Division of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department increasing in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same time period last year, Capt. Jim Wilson said overall crime in the area is down, and that’s something he’s proud of.

South Division, which covers the majority of neighborhoods in south Charlotte south of Fairview Road, has seen a decrease in crime for the past five years – finishing second last year to the Hickory Grove Division – which makes even the smallest increase seem significant, Wilson said. There were 90 home and business break-ins reported for the first quarter of 2014, with only 60 the previous year. Although the jump of 30 more break-ins is a 50 percent increase, Wilson argues it’s difficult to judge the increase when the department is comparing such low numbers year by year.

But just because the department is at an all-time low doesn’t mean officers aren’t targeting new areas and developing new plans to combat crime in south Charlotte, Wilson said.

“One of the things we’ve been doing (to prevent car break-ins) is targeting the heroin offenders in the area,” Wilson said. “What we’ve found is a correlation between people who use heroin and larceny from auto. … They are trying to get a quick fix for some money.”

Crime reports for the first quarter of 2014 show larceny from auto at a 39.5 percent decrease from the previous year, and a 22.9 percent decrease seen in all larcenies in the area.

The department has seen an increase in heroin use and trafficking in the area, Wilson added, something that has been seen across the country. CMPD also has partnered with other organizations to put addicts into rehabilitation and other programs to help lower the spike in drug overdoses seen in area hospitals within the last couple of years.

“We are not only going after the offenders and interviewing them, but we are also working with Drug Free America, the hospitals and schools to get people with problems into rehab,” Wilson said. “We know we aren’t going to arrest our way out of that problem.”

But most importantly, Wilson said partnering with the community is the most useful asset the department has when fighting crime in south Charlotte.

“(Citizens) know what looks out of place; we don’t,” he said.

The department also monitors trends as they happen to help shift officers to new locations to stop an increase in a particular area or crime before officers see a significant rise in crime. South Division meets weekly to develop new plans and tactics based on crimes seen the previous week.

“… We are hourly with the reports that come in,” Wilson said. “If we see a trend emerge in the week we are flexible enough to switch (the officers) to a new neighborhood.”

South Division saw a 9.9 percent decrease in overall crimes reported in the first quarter of 2014, with Providence Division seeing a 4.9 percent decrease, compared to 2013. Providence Division covers SouthPark and Cotswold in addition to other areas in south Charlotte. Chief Karl Bannerman from the Providence Division did not respond to South Charlotte Weekly for comment by press deadline.

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