Department responds to
cap: Open-air Drug deals like this may be easier to catch now
By Tara Servatius
Seven additional police officers are now patrolling the streets of the David 2 police district. As reported in Creative Loafing recently, increasing complaints over the past month by more than a dozen African-American inner city residents have claimed that their neighborhoods didn't have enough police officers. In addition, police officers complained they didn't feel safe making traffic stops in David 2 because there wasn't enough back-up. Now, the officers have finally been added. Exactly who made the decision to add the officers is unclear. Police Chief Stephens, who met with neighborhood residents two weeks ago in an attempt to resolve the problem, would not commit to adding additional officers to the David 2 police service district at the time, but wanted to shift the responsibilities of three officers who already worked there to a more community-oriented policing approach.
The controversy started last year, when the department increased the size of the inner-city David 2 police district by more than a third, adding some of the city's roughest neighborhoods, like Belvedere Homes, to the area officers must cover. The department did not increase the number of officers -- 63 at the time -- who served the area.
Then, when a class of new police recruits graduated recently, none were allocated to David 2, although new recruits were sent to the largely suburban, affluent South Charlotte Baker 2 police district, which decreased in size during last year's redistricting from 70.38 square miles to 61.87, but jumped from 64 officers to 83. Each of the department's 12 service districts are currently understaffed, according to a manpower modeling program in use by the police department.
After a city public safety meeting on Thursday, Stephens told Creative Loafing he didn't know how many officers had been added to the service district. The chief and council members who sit on the committee discussed the recent controversy over how officers are distributed across the county and how they police.
Staffing levels is and always will be an issue in policing, said Stephens.
But ironically enough, in over an hour's worth of discussion which centered around Stephens' community policing plans, Stephens never specifically addressed the issue of officer allocation to low-and-moderate income inner city areas versus suburban areas when police redistricted last year -- the heart of the controversy over redistricting.
Public safety committee members were not informed that officers had been added to David 2, although a sharp eye would have caught a slight difference in the number of police officers assigned to David 2 on a handout from the police department. It lists a 68 for the number of officers currently serving in David 2, five more officers than department officials said were working there three weeks ago.
On Monday, David Service Area Captain Tim Danchess verified that the seven officers had been added. Danchess said an eighth officer who is currently working as a school resource officer will be added when school is out.
But regardless of who made the decision to add the officers -- or responded to media attention and pressure from African-American community leaders -- officers who patrol the streets of David 2 said the addition of more police has made a difference -- and is allowing some officers to resume their community policing work. Community policing, an enforcement strategy that goes by several names, is a popular concept aimed at prevention, rather than response to calls for service.
Area officers and residents told Stephens that the dearth of police officers has taken away from community policing, and that the drug dealers and prostitutes who once overran the neighborhood were beginning to return.
There is a definite short-term effect, said one David 2 officer. We are not all having to answer as many calls for service right now.Local Government Finds Free Lunch (and Dinner and Breakfast)Catering bills for current year top $300K -- so farBy Tricia Childress
Whoever said there's no such thing as a free lunch, doesn't know Charlotte Mecklenburg government very well. Not only are there free lunches, but dinner and breakfast, too. In fact, the combined total of what the city, county, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools spent on catering from the beginning of the current fiscal year, July 1, 2000, until a few weeks ago was $309,143.83. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount, the amount that has already been spent to date in this fiscal year. Arriving at the actual total is more difficult since catering is not a line item in the budget.
The amount spent on catering generally falls into two categories: travel, and conferences-and-meetings. However, catering may also be included in projects, such as building and parks openings. The $309,000 figure is the amount the city, county, and CMS has already paid this year to only seven caterers. However, I've spoken to other caterers who said they have also catered for the city, but their names did not appear in the information provided by the city.