The main focus of our public safety platform is reduce crime, reduce traffic accidents, and efficiently address quality of life issues. The underlining tenants of this will be accomplished by fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect between the police and the community. This is accomplished through open communication, efficient delivery of services, responsibility, maintaining appropriate staffing levels, and adherence to the labor contract.
This is so much more than having a crime map available on the city’s website and hosting PCIC meetings. People want to know what happened after they report a crime. They want to know what the police are doing about an ongoing problem. They want to be able to get answers to public safety matters when they ask the question. They should not have to wait for a public meeting to access this information. Their phone calls and emails should be answered promptly. The completion of the police department reorganize will aid in this effort as these offices will be open and accessible to the public for at least eight hours a day.
Efficient Delivery of Services
The police department is in the business of delivering a service to all of the members of our community. These services need to include more than running from one 911 call to another. We need to give police officers the opportunity to do proactive work. In so doing, we will be giving officers an opportunity to meet and get to know people in residents, business owners, and their employees. We often hear police officials say, “We need your help”. This cannot happen without a positive relationship between the police and the community. If the police don’t come when called, if the service delivered does not address the issue or if they arrive hours later, the message to the caller is negative. Pleas for help will go unanswered when the community believes their calls for help were unanswered. This is a two way street and has to change immediately.
Each member of the police department, just like any other city employee, has a responsibility to do their job to the best of their ability every work day. Everyone can make an honest mistake, but willful neglect of duty will not be tolerated. Conversely every officer needs to be treated with respect and dignity by their supervisor. An atmosphere of respect within the police department will translate to a more respective demeanor when dealing with the public. Additionally, we need to publicly acknowledge mistakes and take corrective action.
Appropriate Staffing Levels
Maintaining a fully staffed police department requires planning and hiring beyond the approved staffing levels. We must anticipate retirements and disability shortages before they occur. Additionally we would look for efficiencies in staffing, places where a civilian could be employed rather than a police officer. Proper staffing will go a long way toward reducing response times for calls for service, stress created when officers cannot take a day off, and expense incurred when officers have to work overtime to cover shortages.
We must reform the civilian review board process. The mayor will support the creation of a Police Accountability Board.
The current police reorganization must be completed. However, we shouldn’t open buildings without staffing. The section offices need to be staffed by personnel who can answer questions and address the concerns of the community. These offices need to be open at least eight hours per day. Offices need to be open in the southeast and the northeast. We also need to consider staffing an office in Charlotte during the summer. The city-owned port building might be the appropriate cite.
Stolen guns are often used in crimes in the city. The administration will secure funds for a public service campaign focused on educating the public about the need to secure their weapons. A possible slogan is, “Don’t be a victim that leads to another victim.”
Open air drug markets are a big problem. We will identify the drug dealers. We will call them in for meetings and employ intervention tactics, ranging from a guarantee of criminal prosecution to social services help. This tactic has proven effective with youth gangs.
The mayor will lobby the state to fully legalize recreational marijuana. Prohibition is not working. People are smoking marijuana. Meanwhile, the illegal trade takes an enormous toll on city neighborhoods in the form of nuisances and violence. Legalize it, tax it, and study its effects on human health.
The mayor will develop a comprehensive plan with the county to deal with the heroin epidemic. This is a public health crisis, and should be treated as such. Statistics on the number of overdoses and fatalities will be regularly released. Narcan will be widely accessible. On-demand treatment will be available. The city and county will explore the feasibility of supervised injection sites.