Cornelius chief: Town lake patrol can save county $3 million
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Cornelius could save the county nearly $3 million over 10 years if the county transfers responsibility for patrolling Lake Norman from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to Cornelius.
“If we get the same level of funding that CMPD gets today, we can put a boat on the water 24/7 and still save money,” Cornelius Police Chief Bence Hoyle told Cornelius Commissioners Monday night, Aug. 1.
Armed with eye-popping statistics, Chief Hoyle took the floor Monday night and asked the board to formally request Mecklenburg County transfer the contract – and accompanying funding – to the Cornelius Police Department Lake Patrol.
Currently, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is in charge of responding to 911 calls on Lake Norman.
While the Charlotte-Mecklenburg department has done its job well, Hoyle believes a Cornelius Lake Patrol could provide the area better security at a lower cost to the county – and taxpayers.
Most of the savings would come from the lower costs of hiring Cornelius police officers instead of paying the slightly larger salaries of those on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Lake Unit. A considerable amount of savings would also come from cutting the transportation costs of those Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers, Hoyle said.
But Hoyle contends that it is just not about the money, but also about getting officers at the scene on time. “The real issue is response time.”
In 1993, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg department had six officers patrolling Lake Norman. In 2011, the lake still has six officers despite the 417 percent increase in the area’s population. According to Hoyle, Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers don’t respond to many 911 calls at night, unless they are life-threatening situations.
The slow response time usually leaves the Cornelius Police “scrambling and apologetic,” Hoyle said.
With a Cornelius lake patrol, a Cornelius officers could be at the boathouse in two to five minutes and launch within 15 minutes.
Two representatives from the Lake Norman Marine Commission attended Monday’s meeting and spoke in support of Hoyle’s proposal.
The board seemed to agree with Hoyle’s proposal, but the only detail left in doubt is where funding for the patrol will come from.