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Serving a Greater Cause

by Rodney Monroe

February 9,2010

Something I’ve learned in my many years of working in local government, particularly in law enforcement, is the extent to which people feel safe in their neighborhoods is not just an important measure of public safety, but of the overall quality of life of a community. This is a measure that not only falls on the shoulders of the sworn members of the community, but one that befalls the whole community because it takes the whole community to achieve this goal.

As Chief of Police, I take this notion to heart and take it with me every day when I go out to work. Of course, it never ceases to amaze me when I speak to a group of citizens, business leaders or even some of my own staff members at CMPD, and they want to know my strategic vision or plan for reducing crime in Charlotte. I usually feel that somehow they're expecting me to lay out some complicated, long-winded plan for reducing crime and strengthening quality of life in our community.  The reality is that my plan is much simpler than that. In fact, it is not my plan at all, it’s OUR plan. Yes, it might be considered strategic and even somewhat complex, if you’re talking about all the stakeholders that must come together to make it happen, but complicated it is not.

So what does it take to reduce crime and continuously enhance the great quality of life we have in Charlotte? The short answer is collaboration. There’s nothing greater and more effective than the power of a community that comes together. A wise woman once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” and my experience has shown me first hand just how true that statement is.

Just look at the last year and the success we’ve already seen here in Charlotte. It is no accident that we have seen the greatest decline in our crime rate in thirty years. It is the direct result of the unyielding partnership established between CMPD and our community. Citizens and officers came together to fulfill their common goal of making Charlotte a safer place to live and work and because of their hard work, all of our 13 patrol divisions experienced a decrease in crime and overall, reported crimes were down by more than 18 percent. As a community, we saw 10,000 less victims of crimes, a huge step in achieving our goals of preventing and decreasing crimes against our citizens. With more members of our community getting involved and taking the stand to report suspicious or unlawful activities, I am hopeful that we will continue to make strides in our efforts to stem the tide of senseless violence.

There have also been a number of changes within CMPD to support our crime reduction goals. We have focused our crime fighting efforts on the neighborhood level, increasing police visibility in all of our neighborhoods and allowing our patrol divisions more flexibility in the use of their resources and we have also increased accountability at all levels of the organization. Still, the foundation of our success has, without a doubt, been our ability to engage our citizens and provide a forum of information exchange between officers and our community.

A direct result of our collaborative approach has been the success we’ve seen in being able to work with members of our community to be more responsive to property crime reports and to leverage community input to identify and get repeat offenders off the streets. These approaches were at the heart of our crime reduction efforts, and in turn, proved to be very effective. 

It has been a great year in Charlotte and I am grateful to have such a dedicated staff and a supportive community who have worked hard to help make OUR plan a reality. Let’s keep working hard to fulfill the greater vision of the City of Charlotte because we all know that public safety is one of the highest measures of true quality of life in our community. 

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