Last weekend, Taylor Batten of the Observer published an article about how neither candidate for Mayor was breaking out with an aggressive agenda for this fall's mayoral contest (Anyone up for a revealing campaign?)
I agree with him.
Regardless of what Anthony Foxx or John Lassiter's political agendas are this fall, both will talk about public safety issues.
Let me offer them both a ready-made agenda on the crime issue. The agenda is neither Republican or Democrat. This is the first half of the agenda, as it involves local issues that are fairly simple to address. I will offer the second half of his agenda in a later blog posting. I hope both candidates will embrace it and make it their own.
1. Most federal funds that make there way to Charlotte for crime prevention efforts are distributed via the Governor's Crime Commission. Appointed primarily by the Governor, the commission has 44 members from around the state. Of the 44, Charlotte has one member. One. Raleigh has 20!
To be fair to the Governor, she inherited the current board from her predecessor and of the 44 members, 27 are appointed by the Governor, 13 are ex officio, two appointed by the Speaker of the House and two by the Senate Pro Tem.
Not to be partisan, but all of these positions are Democrat controlled.
Both mayoral candidates should call on the Governor to completely overhaul the representation on this board, so that Charlotte is better represented. The recently passed stimulus bill alone, has a potential $3.2 billion worth of crime fighting monies on the table, that this board will be instrumental for distributing in NC, so time is of the essence.
2. Call on the DA and the police chief to identify the top 200 chronic offenders in Charlotte and throw the book at them. Do not allow any of these 200 to plea out on any charges.
3. Call on the DA to assign one Assistant DA in each of the 13 police divisions to help catch the chronic offenders. When the ADAs are prosecuting the same guys every week, it increases the odds that the bad guy will be identified as a chronic offender.
4. Make the city of Charlotte and the CMPD release the details of major unsolved crimes on the anniversary of said crimes. The local media will cover these anniversaries and it could lead to additional information surfacing that could help solve the case. Plenty of other cities around the country employ this simple action. Why aren't we?
5. Partner with CPCC, the Government Channel or UNCC to create, produce and distribute an America's Most Wanted type program weekly on local television. Use the free labor of broadcasting students (give them college credit for their efforts) to produce an entertaining show that will help nab the bad guys.
6. Completely overhaul the Crime Stoppers Program by endowing it with enough cash to make a difference. Chief Monroe shared with me recently that he really wished we had a viable Crime Stoppers Program like other cities. Our program lacks cash. Without cash, the program can't give rewards, but equally important, it can't pay for advertising (television, radio, Internet commercials) educating people of the crimes that need solving.
7. To aid the rebuilding of the Crime Stoppers Program, call on one of our resident financial institutions to create a "keep the change" savings system where by the dollar amount of participants' purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar. Rather than inserting the money into your savings account, give people the option of donating the round up amount to the Crime Stoppers Program. Once this program is in place, launch a major earned media campaign to rally the general public to the cause. With just a little effort, we could completely endow the Crime Stoppers Program.
8. The city council should create a citizens advisory board on crime to advise the board on crime fighting techniques and best practices. I find it sad that the city has boards to advise them on bike paths, the airport, roads, etc, but not one on crime. It speaks volumes as to our priorities as a city.
9. Charlotte needs a crime commission, not a crime czar. Several months ago, a suggestion was made for Charlotte-Mecklenburg to create a crime czar so as to monitor and coordinate the crime fighting funding process between the different levels of government (CMPD, DA, Sheriff, etc). The thought behind the idea is a good one, but rather than create a crime czar, the city should rather create a non-profit crime commission. The commission would be funded by private money and corporate support. It would not receive money from any of the crime fighting agencies so that it can remain objective. It would become the watch dog of crime fighting in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, reporting annually on who is pulling their weight and who is not. The executive director of the Crime Commission would be the de facto Crime Czar of Charlotte. New York City has a crime commission. Why don't we?
10. Hire more cops. We are understaffed on the street by 24%. The Chief is doing a good job by taking his case to the city council. Whether it is federal COPs dollars or local dollars... hire more cops!
11. Charlotte needs to build out and deploy mobile police stations. We have 13 police divisions, but 36 identified crime hot spots in Charlotte. Just like many other cities, we should have an effective mobile station deployment to make up for this disparity. Raleigh utilized this crime fighting technique in the 90's.
12. Let's look at cutting the size of Charlotte's police divisions. The south division is 60 square miles in size. Too large. Too long of a response time.
13. Let's get serious about drinking and driving. Let's purchase two, three, four more mobile DUI intake centers. Let's put it on the road every Friday and Saturday night year around, not just on July 4th or New Year's eve.
14. Let's vigorously defend the use of the federal 287g program in our county jail system. To date, this single program has done the most to fight illegal immigration in our city. Without it we have no tool in the tool belt to fight back. This year you will see a concerted effort nationwide to defund and scale back 287g. We will need to fight back when this happens.
As I said earlier, this is only the first installment of an anti-crime agenda for our local candidates. In a later post, I will inform you of a second wave of anti-crime efforts that involve federal resources, that we should be engaged in. Stay tuned.