North Carolina Department of Correction News - May 1999

Charlotte leaders praise CEASE initiative

Charlotte — City, county and state officials gathered for a press conference April 5 touting CEASE, a new community corrections program, as one of the best in the country.

Charlotte Police Chief Dennis Nowicki, Mayor Pat McCrory and Division of Community Corrections Director Robert Guy praised the Combined Enforcement and Supervision Effort, CEASE, saying it is a major achievement for North Carolina.

CEASE is a signed agreement between Charlotte's police and probation officers allowing mutual access to each agency's information systems while working together to keep tabs on offenders. The unique agreement provides cross training for police and probation officers, and the cooperation is expected to play a proactive role in preventing crime in the community.

Chief PPO Sandy Epperson, DCC Director Robert Guy, Charlotte Police
Chief Dennis Nowicki and CPPO John Cyrus stand next to the agreement
between the two agencies to share computer information.

"These are the results of four and a half years of work," said Chief Nowicki. "This is not to harass anybody but to make sure these folks live by the conditions of their probation. This is to deal with a population within our community that needs a little more attention."

Before, officers had limited access to each other's computer information, and police officers had no way of knowing if someone was a probationer or parolee.

"There was a breakdown in communications and really no system in the criminal justice system," said Mayor McCrory. "This is a giant step forward in trying to prevent crime. Kudos to everyone involved."

Through this permanent agreement, police officers will have immediate access to the records of 8,000 Mecklenburg criminals under DCC supervision including the warrants for probation violations.

For their part, probation and parole officers who became swamped in the 1980s with paperwork will now be taking to the streets, oftentimes, riding with police officers to get to know them and the neighborhoods they patrol. Together, the officers will conduct curfew checks and home visits. Criminals being paroled from Mecklenburg Correctional Center will be picked up by both a police and a probation officer.

"It is my professional and personal belief that this return to the streets by probation officers is the key ingredient to achieving our two-fold mission of public safety and providing those under our supervision the opportunities to become productive, law-abiding citizens," said Guy.

Probation and parole officers will be assigned to work in police patrol districts or out of police satellite stations.

Similar programs exist in North Carolina and other parts of the country. However, the North Carolina CEASE program goes further in allowing records access and cross-training as well as doing the curfew checks and home visits.

Nowicki and Guy praised chief probation and parole officers Sandy Epperson and John Cyrus for their hard work in developing the CEASE initiative and helping make it the strongest in the country.

Probation Officers James Fisher-Davis
and Joseph Byrne stand next to a
Charlotte police car which is equipped
with the most up-to-date computers for
tracking offenders.

"Our goal is not to put more people in prison but to make sure these people on probation are doing what they are supposed to do," Epperson said.

National research shows that inter-agency collaboration efforts such as CEASE reduce crime and greatly improve the quality of life in our communities, Guy said. "Our division’s strategy is to shift from a predominately office-based environment back to a community-based work routine." u

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