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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Significant Events in Crime Reporting (Part 2)

On the heels of numerous other posts concerning lack of transparency in Charlotte’s government, and particularly with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, many have been inquiring particularly following up about the Crime Reporting numbers and their accuracy.  As promised, here is Part 2, though slightly different than originally planned because of the intensity of inquiries surrounding the Significant Event Log.  Citynewswatch thought you should hear directly from the Public Information Officer (PIO) at the CMPD (sort of).  Here is what he had to say about the log when they stopped sending out to media sources at the end of 2007:

From: "Fey, Robert P." <>
To: Media Release <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 7:49 PM
Subject: Significant Event Log

Clarification as to why we are no longer e-mailing the WC Log:

I understand there are some misunderstandings about why the Watch Commander's Log no longer being emailed and wanted to clear that up. I apologize if we weren't clear when we introduced it to you yesterday.

We are no longer emailing the Watch Commander's Log because we don't need to. It is now available to everyone on our web site, although with significant improvements.  The WC Log was only kept after hours and then emailed in the morning -- so you had to wait for it, and it was typically only shared with CMPD personnel and media.  The new Log now covers 24hours, is updated on our web site as close to real time as information becomes available and now everyone has the opportunity to view these events without worrying about being on a distribution list.  That means citizens have better access to this information, which augments with 911 Calls For Service feature that has been online now for a few months.

Please call me if you have any questions.

Robert P. Fey | Public Affairs Officer
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
601 East Trade Street | Charlotte, NC 28202
704.336.2338 o | 704.619.4169 c | 703629  pl

A sample of the Watch Commander reports that used to be sent to media is at the end of this post, since it takes up some extra space.

Here’s a sample of the data that used to be available on-line from approximately the last time it was known to be available to the public on the City’s web site:

Crimes Reported on 07/05/09
Thread Started on Jul 5, 2009, 2:06pm

5000 The Plaza
Division 07 North Tryon
7/5/2009 02:37 Robbery from Person - Armed
3 B/M victims were at 5042 The Plaza when a 2000 Blue Dodge Ram Pickup pulled up occupied by 3 H/M suspects, 2 H/M s exited the truck and demanded the victims' wallets. The truck was last seen traveling along The Plaza towards Milton Road. No shots fired, no injuries. The H/M suspects were in their early 20s and both were wearing gray pants and dark colored shirts with long belts. 1 had an 'M' tattooed on his forehead and the other had an 'S tattooed on his forehead. 1 was armed with a handgun.

W. 26th and N. Tryon Street
Division 02 Metro
7/5/2009 02:23 ADW-With Injury
Male victim was shot in the vicinity of N. Tryon and W. 26th by a suspect that he could only describe as a tall B/M. The victim was initially thought to have NLT injuries, but once he got to the hospital he was rushed to surgery and is currently in critical unstable condition. ADW responded to the scene.

4000 Conway Avenue
Division 26 Westover
7/5/2009 00:37 Robbery from Person - Armed
2 female victims were walking from the railway when they were approached by a B/M suspect who pointed a small black handgun at them and took one of the victim's purse. The other victim knew the suspect and when she called him by name, he dropped the property and ran away. No injuries, no shots fired.

None of this material is available to the public anymore.  Citynewswatch would love to publish a more current explanation of this disappearing data phenomenon from CMPD’s PIO, but according to all sources, they simply will not answer almost any questions right now.

If you read this earlier post, Crime Reporting Questions and Jealous Reporters? , see that this Significant Event Log information is only one piece of the information needed to check against the Crime Statistics being reported by the Chief and his team at the CMPD, because the numbers don’t add up.

Throughout documented months of public records requests, the CMPD has stated that the numbers involved are not public record.  This is not the case.  To date, Mayor Foxx and the City Council will not assist to compel production of these records, or to have them put back on the web site.

They will not respond yet that they are investigating the reported Crime Statistics, based on the information presented to them that numbers may be either mistakenly or intentionally misrepresentative of actual crime in Charlotte.

It seems that presenting a “safe street story” is more important than accuracy.  Maybe this is related to the upcoming DNC 2012 fervor, but it seems that actually having safety would be better.

Aside from the Significant Event Log disappearing, the Calls for Service are also gone. If you try to find an Incident report, you must have the full report number AND the victim name in order to get the report on the one available public location, which makes it impossible to look up anything unless an officer gave you your own personal report number and your name.

As for using the crimes search engine by location, if you’ve ever tried to use it, you may be laughing right now.  It may be useful in a couple of ways, but has some serious drawbacks—and definitely does not assist in analyzing the reported crime statistics.

First, it’s incredibly slow and cumbersome.  Second, either officers are not reporting MANY crimes into the system, or the system is not showing MANY crimes.  There will be specific examples of this in Part 3.  Third, there is no way to download the data, to look up the data for an entire street, or for any number of other ways.  You must click on a map and use a choice of radii from there to get information for a date range.  It’s definitely not comparable with the reported Crime Statistics.  Not at all. 

Are the missing Calls for Service and numbers of Reported Crimes accounted for with write-offs to Miscellaneous Incidents?  That’s another question the CMPD will not answer.  But if the event logs and calls for service were released, everyone would know right away what was going on.  Maybe that’s the point.

Reiterating calls from Citynewswatch and story Rodney Monroe’s Plumbers, here is some of the public information that CMPD needs to release:

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

7)    Complete financial accounting for the CMPD Blue Hornets baseball team, an alleged charity, funded by public money and unknown sponsorships….

8)    Public documents submitted and approvals for all the “upfits” (as they have been termed) for the police buildings and the money sources for each

9)    A public explanation concerning why the TASER International purchase was approved by City Council after TASER International came to give their all-day-lunch-training-legal-and-press-training session to CMPD, but before the results of a $70,000 study we are paying for was completed

10) A public explanation concerning why it appears HR rules and CMPD Directives concerning hiring, promotions, and other personnel matters may not be properly followed, but the City Manager and HR personnel refuse to investigate

Mayor Foxx, City Council Members, City Manager Walton, please respond to these important issues at the core of the City of Charlotte operations. 
We deserve a truly world-class city.

Here’s a sample of the Watch Commander reports that used to be sent to media:

From: "Williams, Talma (Tammy)" <>
To: Media Release <>; _CMPD Command Staff <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 7:27 AM
Subject: Summary

Watch Commanders Log

                          Watch Commander's Daily Summary Report

  Tuesday, April 10, 2007          Wednesday, April 11, 2007

 4/10/2007  17:44       10-66       14      University       20070410174400         Williams        J.    

                                                        City Division                                                                             

       Address       3120 Ryan Jay Dr.

   Information     The victim was robbed of her purse at gunpoint by a B/M suspect who fled the scene on foot.

4/10/2007  18:46      10-77        21      Steele Creek      20070410184600         Williams        J.    


       Address       400 Blk. I-77

   Information     York County requested the assistance of our helicopter unit in the search for a homicide suspect.

4/10/2007  19:13       10-66        11      North           20070410191301         Williams            J.    


       Address       4309 Statesville Rd.

   Information     A W/M suspect attempted to rob the victim of her car keys in the parking lot of the Family Dollar Store. No weapons were observed or indicated. The suspect fled the scene on foot.

4/10/2007  21:19       10-65        26      Westover       20070410211900         Williams          J.    


       Address       5518 South Blvd.

   Information     A masked W/M suspect armed with a handgun approached the drive-thru window of the Taco Bell Restaurant and robbed the employee of cash from the register. The suspect was last seen fleeing the scene on foot.

4/10/2007  23:50       10-94        11      North            20070410235002         Williams            T     


       Address       10611 Roxbury Court

   Information     Victim in this case advises that someone was shooting outside and one shot hit the bedroom window.  The first window pane broke, but the second one did not.  No one was injured.  No suspect info.

4/11/2007  00:04       10-52        16      Providence       20070411000400        Williams         T     


       Address       Castleton Road/Lomax Ave

   Information     This was a one car accident in which the car struck a tree.  Driver was transported with injuries to the head and leg, but NLT.  Officers are also attempting to determine if the driver is  intoxicated.

4/11/2007  02:51       10-66        11      North           20070411025100         Williams           T     


       Address       3437 Kelsey Emma Court

   Information     Victim advises that he was robbed by a B/M and a B/F.  Victim advises that they were at his home and when he would not give them money, they pushed him down and took the money by physical means.

4/11/2007  04:49      10-71        07      North Tryon       20070411044900        Williams        T     


       Address       4435 The Plaza

   Information     Officers arrived at this location and did find this white male walking around in his  boxers.  The male appeared to be okay except he is intoxicated and the officers are  having difficulty communicating with him because he  is deaf and can not speak.  Officers are working on getting a sign language member on site and they have been checking all the local facilities in an attempt to see if they know him.  Officers were still working on this at 0715.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Who is Rodney Monroe NOW?

In a story for WBTV on May 15, 2008, reporter Tom Roussey had this to say about speaking with then new Police Chief Rodney Monroe:
Monroe says he believes strongly in not running a secretive police department. He wants to be transparent and build relationships with the public.
"The better you improve upon your ability to impart information, the greater your chances are of obtaining information," he explained.

Why is it, then, that Monroe has removed all information on the following items from public access on the web site, and won’t answer any questions regarding the numbers:
Calls for service
Significant Event Log
Uniform Crime Reporting Numbers, as they relate to the numbers above
(please read details regarding this important issue in earlier CRIME REPORTING post)
Per story “Rodney Monroe’s Plumbers,” the Internal Affairs reports, minutes of the Civil Service Board, and complete Police Department Budget are also not available anymore.
CMPD and all City officials have also refused to answer for the financial questions surrounding the CMPD Blue Hornets baseball team, run and in the name of CMPD officers—not to mention funded by public money and unknown sponsorships….

The last-minute and possibly after-the-fact additions of budget and non-budget spending items, including tonight’s TASER item, are mind-boggling.  But Mayor Foxx and City Council have continued to pass them, apparently in approval of Curt Walton and Rodney Monroe’s running of the Police Department and finances in their entirety.  They surely have the ability to force explanations for all items.
Why is it, too, that so many explanations to the City Council are made in Dinner Meetings or in private meetings, with no public accountability for the quick votes that obligate us for millions of dollars in spending—whether the spending has already taken place or is scheduled to take place in the future?  We have a right to know fully what is going on.

Later in the article as Monroe began his Charlotte career, Roussey mentions this:
The only potential mark on Monroe's record is that he's been indirectly linked to a federal probe on how grant money was spent during his time as chief in Macon, Georgia.
As mentioned in an earlier citynewswatch post, that didn’t turn out well for Macon—though maybe they didn’t fare as poorly as they could have, given the circumstances.
It’s interesting that the link in Tom Roussey’s story that says “Rodney Monroe’s bio” is broken, and the City and CMPD doesn’t have his resume posted anywhere
It’s more interesting that so many links to stories in the local paper and other local main stream media with controversial references, or possible negative statements or information are often reported as “broken links” when you try to find them on the web.  There’s always a trek to the good ole’ library (recommended), but why is the regular media seemingly removing the coverage of certain issues?   And why aren’t they asking pertinent questions now about activities in the CMPD, the City Manager’s Office, and the oversight responsibilities of Charlotte’s City Council and Mayor?
Good job to Tom Roussey for asking the question “Who is Rodney Monroe” and having the wherewithal to mention the Federal probe underway at the time—even this article did come after Monroe was approved—but where is the press now?
See Roussey’s full story here (at least for now).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Deal Already Done by Monroe?

After posting the story about TASER International’s upcoming meeting and expected windfall from the City of Charlotte and CMPD, citynewswatch received the content of this public document email that went out to CMPD staff from various sources:
TASER International will be delivering a Chief’s Course for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on Monday, September 26.  Your attendance is expected.

The schedule is as follows:
8:00 AM –                        Honor Guard and Opening Comments
8:30 AM to Noon:            Rick Smith (CEO TASER International)   Mike Brave (Legal)
Noon to 12:45 PM:          Break for Lunch (food provided)
12:45 PM – 1:45 PM:       Steve Tuttle (Media)
2:00 PM – 3:50 PM:         Dr. Jeff Ho (Medical)
4:00 PM – 4:45 PM:         Scott Greenwood (ACLU)
4:45 PM – 5:00 PM:         General Q&A

Course Details-
TASER®, through the TASER Training Academy and in conjunction with the FBI National Academy Association, has put together a one-day program specifically designed for law enforcement executives and government risk managers, legal counsels and medical advisors and electronic control device (ECD) subject matter experts.  Topics covered include an overview of TASER ECDs, use-of-force legal and policy issues, medical information and risk mitigation.

Attendees will receive substantial factual information as to how TASER Electronic Control Devices incapacitate individuals, how these ECDs fit into law enforcement use-of-force deployment strategies, training considerations, various policy recommendations (including IACP, PERF and others), recent court decisions what medical studies are being performed and the findings and the effects of TASER ECDs on liability exposures and on reducing officers’ and suspects’ injuries.

IACP is the International Association of Chiefs of Police
PERF is the outside consulting company—based in the Chief’s old stomping ground of Washington, D.C., who has conducted the study we paid for after his own people studied the matter made recommendations.  (Doesn’t say much for the Chief standing behind his Staff, does it?  Or was it just another pointless exercise to get him to the next step, or does he feel they didn’t do a good job?)  And see the last post questions:  the City needs to investigate all the dates of deals made with TASER and with PERF.

It appears from announcement of this Monday afternoon luncheon—with mandatory attendance of members of CMPD staff—that the Chief and TASER International know that the Deal is already done.  Does City Manager Curt Walton?  Does Foxx? Does Council?  When will anyone answer?
What is the real story behind these reviews and the TASER purchase deal? 
Again, NO BACKROOM STORIES WITH CITY COUNCIL AND THE MAYOR SHOULD BE PERMITTED to explain this financial deal.  This is a couple of million dollars and an enormous safety issue, for officers and citizens alike.
We deserve answers.  Public answers.

Real TASER story will be most shocking

NOTE to Mayor Foxx and City Council:  Please stop the backroom, secret meetings of the police department “explaining” what they are doing to the City Council and Mayor, with no public accountability.  Assigning this function to a dinner meeting to hide it from public view is opposed to at least the spirit of the open meetings law. 
Have our Police Chief stand up in front of Council, on camera, and answer questions (asking some questions would be great, too) like anyone else in his position would be expected to do.
By the way, what happened to City Council Video on the web site?
There’s no reason to recap all the excellent reporting details given in Cedarposts’ story CMPD Chief Monroe's Taser Shocker regarding the road Chief Monroe has taken in removing TASERS from cops on the street in Charlotte for months, now.  Please read the detailed dates and numbers there. 
The bottom line is that despite that a lengthy and thorough review by his own staff concluding that the current equipment and staff were safe, the Chief paid an outside consulting company that he has worked with before more money to really REALLY be sure we should spend a couple million dollars more with TASER to buy different ones.
Reports are that Chief Monroe signed a deal with TASER in advance of getting City Council approval Monday night. 
Reports are that Chief Monroe and his always-tight command staff will be having a wonderful luncheon together with the folks from TASER International on Monday afternoon.  Maybe this will be a celebration of the enormous play they have pulled off?  How will Monroe get through this luncheon AND the dinner meeting with City Council, where he is expected to make a presentation on the purchase of these TASERS?
Here’s a suggestion:  Open presentation to the public on this and other police matters, including release of all Asset & Forfeiture financial matters (some A & F money is earmarked for this project as well—although that would usually be an approved use).
·       When did Monroe sign a contract to purchase new TASERS?
·       Did Curt Walton approve this?
·       When did Monroe hire an outside firm to determine if there was a problem with our current TASERS?  Or was this just more ‘justification” for spending money with this company?
·       How many times has TASER International entertained any CMPD/City employee here or elsewhere, and at what expense?
Where is City Council and the Mayor in their oversight duties on all of this?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

City Manager Ignores Potential Problems

Several months ago, Rodney Monroe gave an interview on WSOC TV saying he had spearheaded the security for the Million man march and two presidential inaugurations.  Extensive checking by citynewswatch has so far been unable provide independent confirmation of those suggestions.  Searching newspapers has turned up nothing as well.  Finding several older resumes/self-submitted intros by Monroe on Police Chief newsletters and on-line magazines in past years only yielded mention of his involvement with the Million Man March and a single Inaugural Event, in some capacity.  Somehow, that self-reported involvement has grown.
As Charlotte prepares for the upcoming DNC 2012 Convention, Mayor Foxx had expressed that he has great confidence in the Chief’s history of taking charge of security for these types of events.  But has Monroe been in charge as he said or is that confidence misplaced?  Or are the details just lost at this time? After the first mention of this possible issue September 2nd by citynewswatch, (read here) more recent expressions from Mayor Foxx in the Charlotte Observer no longer include mention of the Inaugurations.
Some clear, verifiable answers in several areas would be appropriate and reassuring directly from the Police Chief.
Many are still waiting and expecting release of the public records regarding all the money that has been pumped into the CMPD Blue Hornets baseball team—information Mayor Foxx, Curt Walton, and the City Council have so far inexplicably supported keeping secret for months. (see here)  Many are also waiting for answers about grant money expenditures and other financial issues within the department.

The same City Manager Walton started out the process on rough footing, knowing of “difficulties” with Monroe’s degree, and the known, reported previous problems with handling of Federal Grants when he was Police Chief in Macon, Georgia just before Richmond.
If they didn’t know about the Federal lawsuit from Monroe himself, they should have known from a background check—which we paid for.  Or they could have read it in the Charlotte Observer during the selection period.  Or they could have asked anyone in the last place he had worked.    

The issue now is that Charlotte officials continue to battle release of public documents regarding financial issues and the running of the police department.  They refuse to investigate issues of apparent bullying and intimidation for those attempting to illuminate potential problems in the
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. 

They have stated a refusal to investigate and their “full confidence” in Chief Monroe as a reason for ignoring issues brought to their attention—that is if any reply is given at all. 
And what was their response to these known issues during the interview process for Police Chief to begin with?

What type of oversight and controls are acceptable in personnel files when it comes to law enforcement in Charlotte?  Between what happened with Marcus Jackson, and Curt Walton’s admitted refusal to look at promotion practices in CMPD, it’s disconcerting…  And what about the financial files they STILL won’t release?

When Chief Monroe was in the finalists’ pool of three possible chiefs for Charlotte, there was information at that time of the Federal Lawsuit underway over misuse of federal funds administered as police chief in Macon Georgia.  Criminal charges were filed in the finance department, although they were dropped in favor of handling the issue with civil settlement. 

It was a Safe Schools Initiative Grant intended to serve at-risk youth in the community, but seems that much of the money didn’t go where it was supposed to, or for the types of items and work it was supposed to fund.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars were in contention out of a grant of approximately $1,000,000.

The Macon Telegraph has numerous articles on the subject of federal funds intended to go directly to help troubled and at-risk youth.  However, much of the money was allegedly used for unapproved purchases and to pay salaries for people, despite that it was not a permitted use.  Other money was just plain unaccounted for. Here are excerpts with references to the full articles:

Former mayor (Ellis)'s administration accused of misusing money, making false statements; civil penalties, payback of grants could reach $1M
(by Travis Fain and Matt Barnwell)

Former Macon Mayor Jack Ellis' … administration told the federal government that "the city had spent the funds in accordance with the terms of the grant."   

"All those certifications were false," the letter states.

Of the $900,000 the city received, about $350,000 was lost to "false claims being submitted to an agency of the United States," the letter states.

A councilman, and former attorney, said his interpretation of Wood's letter is that the Justice Department has the ability to seek the full amount under the law but is willing to negotiate "in an effort to get a quick resolution of the issue."

The article goes on to say Rodney Monroe headed the department while it administered the grant by doling out money to various church groups.

Tuesday, May. 06, 2008
Travis Fain, Matt Barnwell, and Jennifer Burk - Telegraph Staff Writers

Federal law allows the government to reclaim three times the amount owed, plus penalties, according to the letter. Reichert said he still is trying to gather information on the matter and does not know whether any criminal charges could be forthcoming.

But the program was operated by the police department under then-Police Chief Rodney Monroe, who left Macon to become chief of police in Richmond, Va.  Monroe did not return Telegraph calls Monday, and he has not returned Telegraph calls seeking comment about this grant and the subsequent investigations since he moved to Richmond.

He is now a finalist to be Charlotte, N.C.'s police chief, according to a report on the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Web site Monday.

Kelly High-Foster, a police department finance officer under Monroe, and Albert Stokes, who was the department's point man for the Safe Schools Initiative, also did not return calls Monday. Both Foster and Stokes went with Monroe to Richmond.

One final reference excerpt:
It seems Rodney has been practicing his game for a long time.

Macon Telegraph     July 27, 2008   Sec: A Ed: HOME P: 1  By Matt Barnwell

From time to time, former Macon Police Chief Rodney Monroe would grab a golf club and head to the basement of the City Hall annex to work on his short game.

Sometimes he made his shot. Sometimes he missed. Either way, it didn't matter too much because he had a good backdrop: On repeated occasions, the ball rebounded off boxes labeled "Safe Schools Grant."

Macon officials say they could have used these boxes --- stuffed with receipts and other financial documents --- to show federal investigators exactly how they spent the U.S. Department of Justice money.

But those boxes have now disappeared, say city attorneys who offer that detail of the chief's down time in a 22-page letter to U.S. Attorney Max Wood. And missing with them is crucial evidence that might counter Wood's accusation that $350,000 of the $1 million grant was not used properly.

It’s past time for Charlotte’s City Manager to open up the public records and be sure all the finances and operations are running the way they should be.  That is the purpose of the open records law.  Mayor Foxx and the City Council ought to be out front supporting that effort for public figures and public money.