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Rally Against Crime

by Patrick McCrory

December 5,2006

Beneath the tranquil trees of our beautiful City and below the gleaming skyline, these fabrics of our city are being frayed by a rise in crime. Sadly, crime is on the rise in many categories, but we must keep in perspective that we are not facing the 100-plus murder rate that we did when I was first elected mayor 11 years ago. Overall though, the very personal crimes of home invasions and car thefts have been increasing.

Our police officers are working with neighborhood associations and business groups to engage the entire community to prevent the next crime. The City has hired 344 new police officers over the past decade, with 73 being hired since 2005. In addition to these officers, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) has been working smarter with such initiatives as:

• Creating the Gang Intelligence Unit to address the 100 known gangs and more than 1,800 known gang members in our City.

• Implementing a Robbery Curfew, to keep those arrested for robbery in home detention during nighttime hours as they await their trial.

• Creating the International Relations Unit, to address the unique needs of the growing International population.

• Restructuring the police districts, and creating a 13th patrol district, to put police resources where the crime spots are and increase response times.

• Creating the Street Crimes Task Force; since it was formed in February 2006, they have:

o Recovered 44 stolen vehicles
o Seized 285 weapons
o Seized 8,200 grams of Cocaine worth $3.3 million
o Arrested 30 auto theft suspects
o Arrested 151 robbery suspects

In 2006, the number of police citations increased 9% and the total number of arrests were up 8%.

The Police are doing their job, but they need more support throughout the rest of the criminal justice system. We still do not have enough District Attorneys to prosecute all the arrests. Repeat offenders continue to clog the system – with some being arrested 20, 30, and even 40 times. Our criminal justice system is not, in fact, delivering justice.

We do not have enough jail space to hold our prisoners. We don’t have enough court time or judges to handle all the cases for prosecution. The State court system needs to look at the overall court system and how judges’ time is being used.

Given this situation, we have got to get the message out that crime issues and fixing the criminal justice system has to be a priority in the 2007 State legislative session. The time is urgent.

I have met too many victims of crime from the most petty to the most heinous and all are unacceptable – and we simply must act – and act in unison with our state legislative partners.

I want to lobby the State legislature to implement six key pieces of legislation in 2007.

1) Support local police with more jails, district attorneys, and court time to deliver justice to the criminals.

2) Support region-wide efforts to crack down on gangs and implement legislations to take away gang assets.

3) Allow law enforcement to work with schools to share information about people under the age of 16 who have committed felonies.

4) Allow business owners to be a part of the trial/prosecution, when crimes are committed on their property, such as in hotel rooms or mall parking lots, and the victims are not able to travel to testify against the criminal.

5) Implement a state-wide effort, with funding, to encourage local law enforcement to work with Federal officials to address serious crimes and felons who are also illegal aliens.

6) Pass legislation that calls for DUI offenders to have breathalyzer car starters.

I believe there is significant support for these six proposals and I look forward to partnering with members of the General Assembly to implement them. It is through focused attention and action that we will be able to address the shortcomings in the criminal justice system and reduce the number of citizens who become victims.

We, as a team with our State leaders, must begin to rebuild our criminal justice system. A Caravan to Raleigh is the first building block and I ask you to join me in this effort.

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