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Policing and the Anatomy of a Crime <BR>Darrel W. Stephens
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has some of the best equipment and technology of any police department in the country. While these tools play a critical role in efforts to reduce crime and increase the safety,  the essential work of any law enforcement agency starts and ends with personnel-trained and experienced men and women who work with the community to affect long-term change.
 
Rapidly growing communities like Charlotte and Mecklenburg County face increasing demands on municipal services. We are constantly looking for ways to better utilize limited resources.
 
By the Numbers
     - 1557sworn officers police a community of more than 713,455 people over 450 square miles. 
     - 455 civilian personnel and more than 300 volunteers provide critical service in key areas, including 911 communications, records and property control, crime scene and laboratory analysis, and crime reporting.
 
In 2005 officers responded to 370,000 citizens calls for service, wrote 85,000 citations and made 26,000 arrests.  When officers are not responding to calls for service they focus on crime, traffic and other community concerns in their response team areas. Officers work in a team with a community coordinator who maintains contact with neighborhood leaders.
 
Anatomy of a crime
For a crime to take place a victim and a motivated perpetrator who sees an opportunity must come together at one place.  Research shows that on average:
     - 10% of the locations account for about 60% of the calls for service
     - 10% of the perpetrators commit about 50% of the serious crimes
     - 10% of the victims account for about 40% of the victimizations
 
There are steps to take that can make a place less vulnerable to crime. Appropriate lighting, using good locks, securing property, thoughtful business practices on cash management, employee/tenant screening are all helpful tools in reducing crime.  Victim awareness and behavior change can reduce the chances of being a victim.  A focus on the repeat offender with good prosecutable cases made stronger by victims and witnesses engaged in the process can make our streets safer. Police officers working with the community have greater impact on crime and other problems than the police acting alone. 
 
The CMPD has worked with the community for more than ten years to develop effective problem-solving partnerships and we have made significant progress.  Our overall crime rate at the end of 2005 was 20% below what it was in 1995.   In the same time frame, violent crime declined by 34% and property crime by 16%.  While the department has made adjustments to deal with changing conditions and new challenges, fully engaging our partners in crime reduction and prevention is the key to producing a safer community.