Charlotte is on track to set a new homicide record in 2019.
While quite a dubious distinction in and of itself, the developing metric fails to express the full nature and extent of a much larger problem in Mecklenburg County.
The overall crime rate and criminality are on the verge of becoming all-consuming issues for citizens, politicians, and the media in our beloved, friendly southern town.
Community victimization and societal crumbling will take place at a predictable, exponentially increasing rate. We’ve reached and exceeded a tipping point.
Hands will be wrung of course, with thoughts and prayers extended as appropriate. Excuses will be made, while non-specific societal failures are excoriated.
Media-types will be shocked, asking in sweeps retrospectives, “What went wrong in Charlotte?” and “Who is to blame for Charlotte’s record-setting murder rate?”
To anyone who works within the criminal justice system, who also possesses a modicum of intellectual honesty, the answers and reasons are obvious.
Nixon to China
It was once said, “Only Nixon could go to China.”
Perhaps only a Libertarian criminal defense lawyer can speak honestly about crime in Charlotte. Imagine that, a law and order defense attorney.
The eventual, certain public backlash against lawlessness will ultimately result in an erosion of civil liberties, which is anathema to Libertarians.
It also should spark the interest of criminal defense lawyers.
In the end, Constitutional protections always take a hit when the Legislature passes new laws to assuage the white-hot fire of public fury once it is fully stoked.
With 39 homicides as of April 16, 2019, CMPD Chief of Police Kerr Putney is said to have recently quipped, “We’ve got to change that culture. . .”
A culture has to change. “That culture,” though, is the culture within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
It is the culture overseen by and almost entirely the responsibility of Chief Kerr Putney, who by all accounts is a decent, kind man.
Truth be told, his leadership and crime rates are now bound together in an inseparable nexus.
Whether or not he individually caused the problems that are deeply ingrained in his police department, the buck must stop, landing on Chief Putney’s desk.
What has caused the spike in violent crime in Charlotte?
The elephant in the room is this:
When, in substantial, measurable numbers you stop arresting people, bringing charges, writing tickets, and enforcing the criminal laws, the crime rate will spike.
It’s predictable. It’s not unexpected.
There is a cancer of discontent metastasizing at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. That has resulted in a laissez-faire attitude towards enforcing the Rule of Law.
That’s frustrating, especially given tax payers pay CMPD approximately $262,000,000 (yes, 262 million) dollars a year to enforce the NC criminal laws.
Until the culture of CMPD changes, we will suffer through a flood of unending crime. It won’t be a “wave” that ebbs and flows.
It’s not just a matter of bad pay, tough hours, and occasionally dangerous work.
Senior CMPD personnel are leaving in droves because they feel unappreciated. They also feel micro-managed, handcuffed if you will.
It didn’t help that a politician* referred to police as “terrorists,” causing incalculable long-term harm and further increasing the divide between the general public and those whose sole purpose is to protect and serve.
*City Council member LaWana Mayfield resigned her position in February 2019.
The unscientific, but likely accurate courthouse commentary is that some officers are either too scared or too unwilling to do their jobs, fearing the personal liability and public outrage that can result from high-stress, high-conflict encounters.
As hard as that might be to swallow, the job of policing in Charlotte is regularly described “too hard,” “too dangerous,” “too time-consuming,” and/or “just not worth the risk anymore.”
Clearly, Chief Putney isn’t responsible for the hyper-supportive, immediate equality, “seat at the table” operational structure now demanded by the Millennial mindset.
Chief Putney faces the unfathomable task of addressing the righteous outrage when officers kill, time and again, unarmed citizens.
But, until he or someone else figures out how to nurture, develop, and properly train his officers, Charlotte will be a dangerous place to live.