Read on, and see if you buy this latest explanation: “under construction.”
Citynewswatch is aware of numerous citizens who have written to plead for more transparency and information from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, due in large part to:
· their own frustrations with lack of information,
· questions about discrepancies between crime statistics published by CMPD and their own personal experiences,
· years of writing and questions in Cedarposts.blogspot.com, with a recent specific call to action to write & ask for information to be returned to the public
· posts here in citynewswatch highlighting crime numbers with wild discrepancies from one report to the next, and a call to write and ask for the correct information to be returned to the public (all email addresses here on site to the right, as well as in great letter below by Neighborhood Watch leaders)
In reverse order, here is an answer from the CMPD Public Affairs Division—note the August 20th, 2010 date, however—from one citizen’s submission via charmeck.org:
To: (citizen name withheld at this time)
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2010
I hope you are well. My name is Brian Cunningham; I’m the Captain of the Public Affairs Division for the CMPD. I want to Thank You for your feedback ref the website. This is what went out while the website is under construction. Again thanks so much for the feedback, we will do the best we can to have a great site. Brian
The CMPD website will be undergoing construction and the significant event log will be disabled during this construction. Any inquiries during this period may be forwarded to the Public Affairs Office between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.
This is the first known “peep” of a response from the Office of the Chief regarding any information that might be forthcoming from CMPD, so it seemed appropriate to pass it along, but it’s really not enough.
This same gentleman, who is a long-time resident, very involved with his neighborhood and safety initiatives replied with some excellent points on August 20th:
Thanks for the reply Brian. I am glad to hear the SE log will return. I hope the 911 calls for service one will as well. I live in the Metro Response Area 3 and many of us there find it quite useful. If/when it does return, it would be great if it included calls that were not 911 driven (like warrants being served, fugitives, etc. that warrant a police presence). It helps many of us pinpoint what officers are doing @ troubled properties so that we can follow up with property owners and make them aware of what is happening there. I find it is also helpful when I am out of town. I feel a lot more secure being able to check online in a few minutes time to see that there isn't anything going on in my block. (attribution will be given in an update)
Since Captain Cunningham rather un-artfully referred to the site construction, with no projected completion date, it seems like yet another non-answer from CMPD.
There is no known response directly from Chief Monroe, and certainly nothing from City Manager Curt Walton, our Mayor Anthony Foxx, or any of the Charlotte City Council members. All are invited to write to citynewswatch at any time.
Often, when Monroe is asked how to improve the police department, his answer is that citizens should be more involved in Neighborhood Watch… How are citizens of Charlotte supposed to do that? What exactly should we be watching for? Nancy Carter has made similar statements at council meetings about how citizens need to form more Neighborhood Watch groups and be more responsible for attendance… so have other council members.
Yet none are known to have answered email requests to give accurate crime information. It’s discouraging. It also feels like a way to blame citizens for whatever crimes are happening instead of investigating the real crime statistics.
Here is another excellent letter from a frustrated set of neighbors. (Attribution for both letters will be in an update):
From: NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH VOLUNTEERS (name withheld at this time)
Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2011
To: 'Mayor@ci.charlotte.nc.us'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Cc: ; email@example.com; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'
Subject: Regarding CMPD Calls for Service and Significant Event Log
Dear Mayor Foxx and City Council Members,
On October 1st, CMPD removed all public internet access to the CMPD Calls for Service portion of the Crime-Mapping website. For a Department that has formerly extolled the virtues of transparency in relationships between the CMPD and the public to suddenly make this change is troubling.
This action is a blatant assault on the rights of the citizens of this city to be aware of the important and dangerous events in their neighborhoods. We are a fledgling Neighborhood Watch and this action has cut our program off at the knees. I am sure that all other Neighborhood Watch programs are feeling the gap in information to the detriment of their Program. We can no longer be aware of suspicious persons roaming our street, suspicious vehicles, aggressive dogs, vandalism, and drug sale reports, among other important issues. How can we have a successful Neighborhood Watch when we are restricted from access to information regarding our own calls?
I am going to do everything in my power to alert the citizens of this City and have them begin making contacts to request Chief Rodney Monroe return this valuable crime-awareness and crime prevention tool to the public.
(name withheld at this time) Neighborhood Watch
Respectfully, who does Captain Cunningham think he’s kidding with this “under construction” notice from August 20th of this year? The information requested has been missing for a very long time, and has nothing to do with web site construction. It has to do with trying to control the information about the activities of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. And it needs to be investigated. It needs to be fixed. If that weren’t the case, the information would never have been removed from the site, right? You don't have to remove information to construct a new section. It's a preposterous excuse.
If that weren’t the case, the CMPD would answer questions about why none of their “Crime Statistic” numbers make any sense compared to the number of “Calls for Service” and why Chief Monroe stated to City Council that there has been no change in the way crimes are reported, but written notices of more than one type, including from the CMPD Attorney, contradict that statement (see post here).
Giving consideration to the possibility that there is construction on the web site, please inform us what is being done, show the budgetary item and the description of what was approved, and details of the project. Show us that the Significant Event Log was scheduled to be included.
If it wasn’t, then let’s correct that now, and let’s correct a few other things while you claim this construction is in progress. Include all of the following on the web site:
1) Calls for service
2) Significant Event Log
3) Correct Uniform Crime Reporting Numbers, as they relate directly to the numbers above
4) Internal Affairs reports
5) Minutes of the Civil Service Board
6) Complete Police Department Budget
And, when is this construction going to be complete?
Chief Monroe needs to be accountable for the running of the Police Department. He has said he believes transparency is important. He has said he believes imparting information is important. Time to prove it.
Please write to all of the people above. Tell them you want the information about crime in Charlotte.
We deserve to know the truth. The officers deserve the help. We deserve to be safer.