CHARLOTTE (WCNC) – Friday night kicked off several new crime fighting efforts around Charlotte.
It’s the first night officers on overtime will be hitting the streets, since Police Chief Kerr Putney made the announcement earlier this week.
In addition, several local YMCA’s are initiating a new program to keep kids safe and out of trouble.
NBC Charlotte has learned that the overtime is paying for four additional officers on Friday night for the first time this summer. That’s in addition to walking and biking patrols in Noda and Plaza Midwood, which began a few weeks ago.
As the extra wheels are turning, the hope is the added overtime will be working.
“Having a more visible presence so people can flag us down if they need to,” says CMPD Officer Benjamin Hearn, who was on bike patrol Friday night.
Starting Friday night, overtime is paying for four additional officers as part of a summer initiative to fight crime. Two officers will be in Noda or Plaza Midwood and two others will be responding to hot spots in the Eastway Division.
“We can’t be everywhere at once, so having that extra help and extra visibility is very beneficial,” says Officer Hearn.
Chief Putney made the overtime announcement earlier this week. It came a day after three murders in a single night, bringing the total to 46 homicides for the year in Charlotte. It’s on pace to be one of the deadliest ever in the Queen City.
“I don’t want you to say we’re OK, because we’re not,” Chief Putney said earlier in the week.
Also on Friday night, three local YMCA’s started up the Summer of Opportunity program, which is a partnership with CMPD to decrease crime by giving teens a place to go. The recreational centers will stay open until 11 p.m. instead of closing at 8 p.m.
“We really want to make sure that we are fostering strong relationships and meaningful relationships between the teens and the police officers that serve us,” says Symone McGee, with YMCA of Greater Charlotte.
Back on the streets, the officers have already spread peace of mind. Local bar managers tell NBC Charlotte they’ve seen improvements just in the few weeks the three officers have been on foot and on bike patrols.
“Everyone that we’ve come in contact with has been very excited to see us, we’ve even had random people come us and thank us for being here,” says Officer Hearn.
The officers say they will be out from Friday night until 3 a.m. on Saturday and then the patrols start up again later in the evening.