"Court Watch" program expands to track repeat offenders - | WBTV Charlotte

"Court Watch" program expands to track repeat offenders

By Sarah Batista - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  If you've ever had your house or car broken into -- there's a good chance a repeat offender is to blame.

That's where a program called Court Watch comes into play.

It started with concerned neighbors in Charlotte's Grier Heights neighborhood and it's catching on.

Neighbors said they're determined to put a foot in the revolving door of repeat offenders.

"[We] try to help with people who are repeat offenders in our neighborhood," said Mike Hearn, a Dilworth Resident.

The idea of "Court Watch" began small.

A couple of neighbors in Grier Heights wanted to keep the criminals out.

They figured keeping tabs on them in court might grab the attention of the judges and district attorneys.

"Until now, it's been business as usual and nobody's really been watching them," said Marcus Philemon, an organizer of "Court Watch".

The court watch idea spread to Dilworth. Neighbor Mike Hearn was in court Wednesday for Cedric Gaston's hearing. Investigators say Gaston robbed Dilworth Billiards two years ago and shot the owner. This week he pleaded guilty to accessory to robbery and 8 car break ins. He was sentenced to 15-18 months with credit for time served.

"It's not surprising, I hope he turns his life around," said Hearn.

It's criminals such as Gaston that the group is keeping track of. They've even launched a website to document what happens in court. Their efforts have caught the attention of neighbors in East and West Charlotte and organizers say the more volunteers they have, the more criminals they can keep track of.

"We would really like to see a definite difference, and as time goes on we will," said Philemon.

For more information on the "Court Watch" program, log onto www.charmeckcourtwatch.org.


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