Public safety and police transparency

The Charlotte City Council was sworn in on September 6. Left to Right: Incumbent Rep. Marjorie Molina, Incumbent Renee Johnson, Incumbent Dimple Ajmera, Returning Rep. James ‘Smuggie’ Mitchell, Incumbent Braxton Winston, Returning Rep. LaWana Mayfield, Mayor Vi Lyles, New Rep. Dante Anderson, incumbent Malcolm Graham, incumbent Tariq Bokhari, incumbent Victoria Watlington and incumbent Ed Driggs. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

ON TODAY’S AGENDA:

  • SAFE Charlotte/Alternatives to Violence
  • CMPD Update/Disparities Report
  • business items

What happened:
A new Charlotte City Council was sworn in last Tuesday and on Monday, September 12, they met for their first business meeting. The council heard from CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings and Federico Rios of City Housing and Neighborhood Services on issues of public safety and police transparency before moving on to business issues.

And after:
Council will meet again for a zoning meeting on Monday September 19th.

SAFE Charlotte/Alternatives to Violence

Federico Rios gave a presentation on the Alternatives to Violence pilot program, based on the Cure Violence Global model and implemented by Youth Advocate Programs. You can read more about the SAFE Charlotte violence interruption plan that was implemented in late 2020 here.

Rios said the Cure Violence Global team has requested that the local program not provide a full annual review of the pilot program, which first launched on the Beatties Ford Corridor in August 2021, due to the drastic changes. that happened (changes in management, personnel), but he was able to provide some data.

According to the data, there have been 106 serious assaults in the Beatties Ford area so far in 2022, although the area overall has seen a decrease in violent crime compared to previous years. The ATV violence interrupters mediated 45 situations and saw 19 participants pass, that is to say young people in difficulty whom the interrupters help to find a job, to complete their studies, etc.

At Monday’s meeting, the board was set to approve $1 million in funding for the next phase of ATV in Charlotte, so Rios also walked the board members through what that might look like. He said staff had identified three locations for the next phase: the Nations Ford Road/Arrowood Roads Corridor, Southside Homes and the West Boulevard/Remount Road Corridor. Rios suggested treating them as two sites, combining Southside Homes with West Boulevard and Remount Road because of their proximity.

Renee Johnson asked for more details on why the data behind the Alternatives to Violence program was considered “skewed”, as Rios had put it, to which he replied that the entire team working on the ground had been returned in December, so data collection began in February.

Rios said the team set up in August 2021 “decided to make the transition” last December, although Queen City Nerve spoke to several sources familiar with the program who say the team was let go due inconsistencies with paperwork. No leader of any of the organizations involved — Cure Violence, Youth Advocate Programs or the City of Charlotte — has agreed to comment on the filing to confirm this information.

violence interruption program
Belton Platt was originally hired to lead the Beatties Ford Road Corridor Violence Disruption Program, but left in December 2021. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Ed Driggs wanted to know when the council will have data to review from Alternatives to Violence, to which Rios said there will be a year-long report formulated in February 2023 to analyze how the approach has worked on the corridor Beatties Ford Road since the new team took over.

Malcolm Graham asked if the ATV Violence Switchers on Beatties Ford were working with the police who patrol that area, to which Rios said such collaboration would damage the Switchers’ credibility. He acts as an intermediary when needed.

The Council will later vote unanimously to approve federal funding of $1 million to begin implementing the next phase of Alternatives to Violence.


CMPD Update/Disparities Report

After CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings’ presentation on crime statistics and police recruiting efforts, incoming Mayor Pro Tem Braxton Winston asked him about the department’s new media policy, which, in the view of all, indicates less transparency on the part of the CMPD.

Jennings said the CMPD’s goal was to focus on responding to requests for public records, which his department is legally required to do, rather than requests for public information, which overwhelmed his public information office. . These will no longer be a priority.

Jennings said that instead of responding to media requests, his department will release information they think the community needs to know about social media and their app. LaWana Mayfield wanted more explanation on this, pointing out that some residents don’t use the app or social media but rely on local media.

Jennings said there would be no real change in how CMPD provides information to the media; they will still regularly provide press releases and information they want the media to know, they just won’t prioritize specific media questions and requests for information (so… a real change).

Colette Holt of Colette Holt & Associates, who was hired to produce a disparity report analyzing the number of the city’s prime contracts going to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (MWBEs), presented the findings of the report to the advice.

The report found that Black-owned businesses see the greatest disparity when it comes to municipal contracts, as they won 2.4% of contracts despite making up 3.8% of the business community – a disparity rate of 61.9%.

According to Holt, it is ideal for an MWBE group to be in the 80%-100% range when it comes to disparity ratios (50% means 1:2, 100% means 1:1, 200% means 2:1 , etc. .). Here are the rest of the MWBE demographics and their disparity ratios in Charlotte, according to the disparity report.

  • White women: 80.5%
  • Native American: 135.8%
  • Asian: 521.5%
  • Hispanic: 100.8%

business items

The council’s first vote was on whether to preserve Peppertree Apartments as Natural Affordable Housing (NOAH) for at least 20 years through a city/county rent subsidy program. At nearly 300 units, it’s larger than any of the city’s previous NOAH projects.

The Peppertree apartment complex is located in East Charlotte at the corner of Central Avenue and Kilborne Drive. The project will cost $55.8 million, with $8 million coming from the city (tonight’s vote), $4 million from the county, and the rest coming from other funds and programs.

Tariq Bokhari said he supports this effort, but wants to see more direct links to workforce development and other programs to help people out of the financial situation they find themselves in. the city’s housing efforts will be “a hobby.”

The motion passed unanimously.

Council voted unanimously to approve changes to the City’s Sponsorship Policy to expedite the process when private sector organizations wish to offer sponsorships to assist the CMPD’s Animal Care and Control Department during rescue events or the CMPD in missing person situations. Some of these opportunities are missed due to the time required to complete the sponsorship approval process.

The council approved the ratification agreement with the county to provide shuttle service via CATS to Ramsey Creek Park Beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day next year. Funded by the county, the current shuttle service recorded Memorial Day weekend ridership at more than 2,100 riders.

Council approved a land swap to provide right of way along the light rail to allow for mixed-use development near the intersection of Rampart and Hawkins Streets. Three council members objected.


Become a nervous member: Get better connected and become a Queen City Nerve member to support local journalism for as little as $5 a month. Our community journalism helps keep you informed through a range of diverse voices.