Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and prosecutors say they’ve launched a joint crackdown on habitual offenders.

The goal, they say, is to target about 200 people who, according to police and prosecutors, commit a high proportion of violent and property crimes in the Charlotte area.

Police officials said CMPD will monitor those individuals and push for faster convictions and longer prison sentences. Police also will attend bond hearings to make sure judges know the complete criminal records of high-priority suspects.

The joint effort, called the Priority Offender Strategy Team (POST), was outlined Tuesday by CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe. The team also includes other law enforcement agencies in Mecklenburg County, as well as probation officers.

Monroe in the past has criticized what he has called a revolving door in Mecklenburg County’s criminal justice system. Police have blamed prosecutors and prosecutors have blamed police.

But at Tuesday’s press conference, held at CMPD headquarters, Monroe talked of renewed cooperation.

“This partnership is to strategically organize efforts that target these offenders through a multi-faceted, multi-agency approach,” he said.

Monroe said the POST team won’t focus on minor criminal such as alcoholics and aggressive panhandlers, though such individuals may have long arrest records. Instead, he said, the team will focus on criminals who kill, injure and steal.

POST members will meet weekly to discuss priority cases, CMPD officials said.

Also on Tuesday, CMPD reported that crime fell 22.1 percent in the first six months of 2009 compared with the same period last year. Property crimes were down 22.1 percent, while violent crime fell 22.8 percent. Rape was the only major category that showed an increase, up 6.7 percent.

Other categories were:

  • Homicides, down 38.1 percent
  • Burglary, down 18.4 percent
  • Vehicle theft, down 37 percent
  • Larceny, down 20.8 percent
  • Arson, down 12.8 percent

As for the increase in reported cases of rape, CMPD said 102 of the 118 victims knew their alleged attackers.

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