The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is partnering with the Lowe’s home-improvement chain to keep first-time, low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system.
The program, announced Thursday, applies to offenders ages 18 to 24 and offers employment training and job opportunities in place of jail time.
CMPD said it hopes the program continues the success of its youth-diversion program. Since 2013, nearly 4,000 juveniles have completed that program, with 92% going on to commit no further offenses, the department said.
“I’m proud of the accomplishments of the CMPD’s existing Youth Diversion Program,” CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said. “They gain valuable life lessons and skills to become successful adults. I know the adult-diversion program will give those same opportunities for young adults to better themselves.”
Local Lowe’s leaders will lead training, including classes on resume writing, interviewing and job retention. The program also includes job readiness training, a financial literacy course, a victim-awareness course and more.
Lowe’s, the program’s executive sponsor, gave $48,650 to cover first-year costs.
The Mooresville-based retailer and other companies will offer employment opportunities for people who complete the program.
“We believe this program will pay long-term dividends in the lives of the participants we will be able to impact and in the communities they will go on to impact for years to come,” Hanh Pham, Lowe’s regional vice president, said.
Entry into the program comes by referral from a CMPD officer. If a person being arrested is deemed eligible, the arresting officer may refer the suspect to a diversion specialist.
Once accepted, participants are required to complete courses ranging from three to 12 months depending on the severity of their offense. The program has a zero-tolerance policy toward new criminal offenses, CMPD said.
Participants are required to attend meetings with the program specialist. They also are required to comply with program rules during training and after employment.
Divertible offenses are:
- larceny from auto
- unauthorized use of motor vehicle
- larceny by employee
- felony/misdemeanor larceny
- misdemeanor assault (non-domestic violence)
- auto theft-no pursuit or accident with injury
- possession of stolen property (misdemeanor & felony)
- misdemeanor class B or E
- intoxicated and disruptive
- disorderly conduct
- damage to property/vandalism
- failure to disperse (post-arrest)
- possession of alcohol under 21
- possession of marijuana and/or other drugs
- ABC misdemeanor
- possession of drug paraphernalia