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Monroe gives officers personal use of patrol cars

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers are now able to drive patrol cars home and on personal errands to boost visibility. Patrol cars have been assigned to about 100 police officers to take home and wherever they may go within the county while off-duty. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe says the new rules will boost the visibility of police throughout the city. "If you're out there doing the wrong thing, you may see the car, but you won't see the officer. And those officers will be out there not only paying attention to their everyday lives, but also paying attention to this city they've committed themselves to," says Monroe. Many of the cars were used to be unmarked. The department says it cost about $375,000 to retrofit these cars. Monroe says the department doesn't know how much the extra mileage and service will cost. The department says all officers assigned to the cars must live within Mecklenburg County, but aside from that officers are not selected based on neighborhoods they call home. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police figures show crime has dropped in neighborhoods that have a high police presence. But Lakesha Porter isn't convinced that a police car parked in her South End neighborhood would prevent much crime and she worries that it may cost extra money. "I've heard of instances where there's been an actual police precinct and a store has been robbed. So, no that doesn't stop crime," says Porter. However, Deborah Crowell who lives in the Hidden Valley neighborhood north of uptown welcomes the additional police presence. "I think it would be OK. And maybe if some of the people in the area know that it's the police that live there, maybe some of the activity in the neighborhood would be stopped," says Crowell. Charlotte Mecklenburg police say 170 police officers will be taking home patrol cars by late spring.