Cornelius Police may have responded to fewer property and violent crimes compared to last year, but the department has been busy with false alarms, storm response and traffic issues.
Violent crimes in Cornelius are down 41 percent and property crimes are down 12 percent compared to last year, Police Chief Bence Hoyle recently told town commissioners during a departmental report.
Hoyle views the reduction in property crime as more significant, considering property crimes happen more frequently than violent ones.
Cornelius has seen several car break-ins this year. Even with a focus on educating residents on the importance of keeping vehicles locked, “this number is definitely not where it should be,” Hoyle said.
Cornelius Police added two narcotics positions this year, bringing the department’s total to three.
The decision to add the two positions came about “after getting a lot of information about places that were selling,” Hoyle said. “Our video really helped identify some of those issues.”
Cornelius has seen a 95 percent increase in cases relating to cocaine, heroin, steroids and prescription drugs, according to Hoyle.
“Cornelius is not riddled with drug crime, but this stuff is out there,” Hoyle said. “What we’ve been able to do is reach beyond that first level of user and dealer. Most of our charges are trafficking level charges.”
Homes and businesses have accumulated $9,950 worth of false alarm charges for 97 separate incidents since the town began enforcing a new alarm ordinance.
The gross billing to date, including the $10 registration for systems, is $12,100.
While there are $2,455 worth of appeals in progress, there’s been only $25 worth of refunds.
A total of $7,105 has been collected so far.
“It is still too early to judge the impact of the system on reduction thus far,” Hoyle said. “We do feel like hit has had an impact but we’ll have to give it some time.”
Police have logged 12 alcohol-related accidents this year, almost double of last year at this point.
“Our lake and our bars, the nightlife, really do have an effect on that,” Hoyle said. “We also get a lot of complaints about stop lights, stop signs and crosswalks.”
Cornelius Police have 40 active requests from various areas around town for traffic patrol units.
Most of these requests are about speeding issues and 90 percent of the requests come during rush hour when the department is the busiest, Hoyle said.
The department received 90 incoming 911 calls during a June 29 storm.
“I was here till about 3:30 in the morning and it was the worst I’ve seen in my 20 years in Mecklenburg,” Hoyle said. “It doesn’t match (Hurricane) Hugo, but other than that, it was really bad.”
One home in the Twin Oaks community with water pouring into it. Several vehicles in flooded areas began floating due to the high water levels.
Total call volume reached 143 percent of answering capacity at that time.
“We are going to look for ways, during an extreme event like that, that we have a way of rolling it over to voicemail to say we are aware of the power outages and have notified Electrocities,” Hoyle said. “We never have a time when power is going to come back on. It is a surprise to us just like everybody else and that’s mostly what people want to know. There’s just not a lot of information that we can give them. We still want to answer those calls, but we don’t want to have to do it when we’ve got an event like that going on.”
Video surveillance has helped police during investigation.
Officers initially thought that a taxi driver was at fault for a wreck until they reviewed video showing that the other driver was traveling 60 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone.
Cornelius dispatchers have been trained to use the video technology. In one case, a dispatcher watching live surveillance sent an officer to the scene of a potential crime at a park.
Cameras are placed in public spaces to avoid privacy issues.
One camera at Bailey Road Park has a 360-degree view of the park and can “read the brand name on your tennis shoes,” Hoyle said.