Officers respond after FBI Director calls police 'reluctant'

Officers respond after FBI Director calls police 'reluctant'

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Some major cities in the United States are experiencing a spike in crime. For the third quarter, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department reported a double digit increase in crime throughout the city.

Recently the FBI Director James Comey suggested maybe the increase in crime is attributed to police officers pulling back because there has been public scrutiny over police actions and people are armed with a cell phone that takes pictures and video.

"In today's YouTube world," FBI Director said. "Are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that reduces violent crime?"

WBTV reached out to Mt. Holly Police Chief Don Roper to get his reaction.

Roper says his 31 officers talk about the importance of doing the right thing while out on the job.

"As humans I am sure it's in the back of everyone's mind," Roper said. "We have a pretty difficult jobs and our guys have some split second decisions they have to make."

When police officers respond to a scene, they are greeted with people armed with cell phones capturing the officer's every move.

"We recognize that people have a right to video us," the Chief said. "We understand that and we are going to do our best to do our job the same way, anyway - if somebody is videotaping us or not."

Recently there have been cases involving videos of police officers caught in the act. Those videos have caused those officers to be charged. With the public eye constantly on police, the Chief tells his officers not to be paranoid in doing their job.

"I understand people being concerned," Roper said. "And maybe second guessing themselves on whether they're following proper procedure, but I think that's a training issue."

The Chief says his officers get trained regularly to make sure they are prepared for various scenarios.

"We try to go through scenarios in training," the Chief said. "Try to get it right there, so that you are going to react the same way in the real world whether someone is videoing you or not."

Dr. Vivan Lord didn't agree with the FBI Director's comments about equating a rise in crime with the use of cell phones.

"You cannot say that," Lord said. "Criminologist will shutter if you say that. Crime rate is very complex and it's not easy to say there is one thing."

Lord believes the increase in crime in some cities is because there is a disconnect between police and the community. She also believes officers may get more comfortable doing their job with cellphones everywhere when officers get their own cameras to use.

"I think the knee jerk reaction in this reluctance, in perhaps thinking twice, may change if more officers are wearing the body cams," Lord says.

The professor says studies show things get better when officers wear body cams.

"Use of Excessive force went down dramatically, and also that police performance went up," the professor said.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police attribute crime going up, not to officers afraid to do their jobs in fear of cell phone use, but to people using weapons and violence to settle their differences and not discussing things over

Copyright 2015 WBTV. All rights reserved.