“I feel if the police had taken property crimes more seriously and the court had taken this more seriously, two people would be alive today,”

Now it is all coming out. People should have been in jail instead of trolling the streets of Chapel Hill, but for some paper work error. There was a wave of burglaries in Durham in January; the police chief should have taken this more seriously.

I’m not going to spend too much time probing the loop-holes and inadequacies of our criminal justice system; there is a dearth of literature on the subject, and certain Triangle city councils will do a thorough job of cannibalizing themselves.

I will merely point out two things:

1. The economy is in the crapper; it has been for some time, and it will continue to decline for the immediate future. Though the Triangle is well insulated from suffering the worst brunts of a full-blown, national recession, there is an underclass here that is hurting – and will continue to hurt as gas prices rise, foreclosures increase and a base-level lifestyle becomes increasingly unobtainable. In this environment don’t be surprised when the bikes in your garage go missing, your wallet gets pinched, or your car is stolen. Property crimes are not only a leading indicator of economic woe, they are an early warning – as criminals become more bold and ambitious – of worse crimes to come. The police should have been on alert that that notice had been served some months ago.

2. The murderers of Eve Carson and Abhijit Mahato have now been implicated in crimes in all three Triangle counties; Wake, Orange, and Durham. The major cities in those three counties – Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham – all have new police chiefs. Harry Dolan came from Grand Rapids and assumed duties in Raleigh last August. Brian Curran was promoted from withing the Chapel Hill force in September. Durham head, Jose Lopez also became chief in July, after serving as assistant police chief in Hartford, Connecticut.

Sometimes during transitions, systems break down, lines of authority get blurred, staff let down their guard waiting for leadership to get acclimated to the new environment. Arrests for property crimes are a pain in the butt. Patrol officers know that it is more than likely that the offenders will be right back on the streets, either because the justice system can’t widdle out a case, or from questionable bail setting practices. Who knows if patrol officers in the region have been a little lax in the pursuit of property crimes of late because management was looking the other way.

Last month I did a “ride along” with an officer from the Raleigh police department. I asked the young officer how the new chief was working out,

“Great, I had him directing traffic for me the other day.”

The officer was serious. And though his answer was humorous, I might have preferred to hear that tax dollars were being better put to work for a job with such massive responsibilities.

And let’s not let Chapel Hill officials off the hook just yet, not by a long shot.

I applaud the swift apprehension of Atwater and Lovette (though I suspect police secretly knew they were already in hot water, and the murder of a high profile UNC student demanded that they act fast). Brian Curran, when you said this felt like a “fairly random crime” what did you mean? Eve Carson’s murderers left a trail of “bread crumbs” dating back three months?

Orange County DA Jim Woodall, when you said,

“This might be unprecedented for us… It’s a concern, it’s tragic, but I don’t know that there’s a pattern there.”

What informed position was this based on? Is this still unprecedented? Because the pattern appears to lead back months, and over three counties.

Post Script:

Do I smell budget appropriations?” : Nice try Judge Brown, but anti-gang legislation ain’t the remedy for this problem.


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