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Former police officer offers community patrols in east Charlotte

With his years of experience behind the badge, Brian Lutes aims to keep his neighbors safe.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said it is experiencing a higher volume of 9-1-1 calls. The department says a staff shortage is making it hard to answer all those calls quickly.

However, a community patrol officer is taking some load off the agency by providing security for some local neighborhoods.

Brian Lutes is a former police officer and deputy constable from Pennsylvania. When he is not working his day job, he is out patrolling the streets.

It started with the neighborhood he lives in and grew to more than a dozen communities.

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Allegray White has lived in the Stone Haven neighborhood for about 40 years.

“When the kids were out kind of after dark, riding their bikes and playing in the cul de sac, we had a little bit more comfort knowing Brian’s presence was there,” she said. 

When they see the flashing green lights and patrol car coming down the street neighbors know Lutes is keeping watch.

“The main thing we try to do is be a visible deterrent and let people know there is someone looking out,” said Lutes.

He is putting his law enforcement experience to good use through his nonprofit East Charlotte Area Patrol and helping keep crimes out of communities.

“We get calls to check situations out," he said. “Mostly something like a suspicious vehicle, suspicious person, or they’ll call and say my neighbor is on vacation but there is a car in their driveway, and it shouldn't be there."

Lutes is equipped with a body cam and several self-defense tools, but nothing lethal.

“We operate under the North Carolina General Statute 15A-404. What that says is any private citizen can detain a person engaging in criminal activity,” explained Lutes. “Anything that amounts to a breach of the peace. You can detain them, call the police, and law enforcement will make a decision on what to do with that.”

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Neighbors have some peace of mind knowing they have extra security.

“We don’t have people just coming into the complex and just parking wherever they want to. And we had a couple of kids break into the swimming pool and they don’t know,” said Beatrice Decost who also lives in the Stone Haven neighborhood.

“Sometimes we will be going out of town and we can send him a note and say 'we are going to be gone a couple of days' and he will do extra patrols and checks,” said White.

Lutes says he likes to know he has a hand in making his neighbors feel safe.

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“When I drive down the streets and I see a mom pushing a stroller with two kids, I like the feeling that she knows she is safe in this community, to some extent,” he adds

He has been a community patrol officer for 13 years. He now patrols 17 communities, running everything on donations.

“As long as I’m living here and I’m physically able to do it, I’ll do it. And the community wants it, because it couldn’t happen without them,” said Lutes.

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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