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The Voice of the Black Community

Local & State

Johnson C. Smith University and CMPD partner to fight crime
Initiative addresses spike around campus
 
Published Tuesday, November 24, 2020 6:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

COURTESY JOHNSON C. SMITH UNIVERSITY
Johnson C. Smith University Police Chief Jermaine Cherry.

Johnson C. Smith University’s Campus Police Department is taking a holistic approach to addressing violent and petty crime in the area.


That starts with looking for every opportunity to positively engage community for JCSU Campus Police Department Chief Jermaine Cherry. It also includes collaborating with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to reduce crime in the area surrounding campus, as well as JCSU’s off-campus properties.


CMPD’s third quarter public safety report for 2020 shows an 11% increase in violent crime (5% increase in the first quarter and 2% increase in the second).


According to CMPD data, 112 violent crimes were reported within a 1-mile vicinity of the school since June 1.


“We had somewhat of a rise of violent crime in the area very, very close to JCSU—the side streets within this area – so much so that we had to get involved,” Cherry said. “And in one instance had to render aid to victims and help identify possible suspects in the case, and it also led up to arrests. That is what spurred me to start talking to our partners about what we can do mitigate that.”


Cherry met with CMPD administration at the Metro Division station on Beatties Ford Road, less than 2 miles from JCSU, to discuss potential strategies. He spoke with officials from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office about any assistance they could provide, as well as the district attorney’s office. Cherry also reached out to mental health officials at Atrium Health, homeless shelters and food banks. The goal was to create a team that could address and prevent crime.


“We are going to ramp up our presence in the area,” Cherry said. “We are going to increase staffing levels. We are going to bring in the bike team from CMPD to assist us, while at the same time mental health and homeless shelter officials are going to engage individuals in the area who are suffering from mental illness or lack of housing and food. It is going to be a multifaceted approach. While we are doing what we are doing on the enforcement side, they at the very same time will be reaching out to individuals who need assistance in other areas.”


CMPD will also provide additional surveillance for trouble spots through its Sky Tower and Mobile Camera Unit.


JCSU opted for a remote fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the intention of bringing students back on campus for in-person instruction for the spring semester.
Prior to their leaving, Cherry noticed increased student complaints about being harassed in the neighborhood – particularly over the last year.


“We want to put something in play now to at least get started with addressing it so that the campus community would know that this issue is on the radar and here are some of the things we are doing to address it,” he said. “Our students, faculty and staff deserve to move about the community without fear of being harassed or falling victim to crime.”
It is incumbent upon us to facilitate safety in the area.”


The plan is also to work with Historic West End residents and churches to ensure community safety.


“We have found that when we have approached residents in the community, we have found them to be quite open—very surprised that they got a knock on the door from the police, just wanting to introduce ourselves and let you know that we are here for you, and to let us know how we can be here for you,” Cherry said. “We’ve found it can be quite successful in this area. We’ve gotten to know quite a few of the residents. With input from the residents, we have been able to address some of the things in the area.”

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