Is it time to bring back the infamous "Jump Out Boyz" ?
Some within CMPD think so.
"Who are the Jump Out Boys? The Jump Out Boys are a gang of deputies within the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office. The clandestine brotherhood allegedly takes pride in aggressive policing, the shootings of mostly Latino and black gang members, loyalty to one another and street justice." LA Times
Back in the days of the West Side Crips and Bloods, the Hidden Valley Kings not to mention biker gangs like the Outlaw MC that plagued the West Boulevard and northeast of the city the Jump Out Boyz were legendary.
This élite gang interdiction unit ruled and nothing got in their way. The basic concept was fear via community policing. No Knock Warrants were just No Knock No Warrants.
Crime not only didn't pay it could be really painful and inconvenient. The Jump Out Boyz made being a criminal a risky profession even when the marked Five-O units were not around.
Going to jail was the least of the thugs concerns, in fact many would just turn themselves in and confess to their crimes rather than getting picked up by the Jump Out Boyz.
When Five-O rolled up and asked: "Can I trust you?" It was a sign things were going to get interesting. The Jump Out Boyz made Good Cop Bad Cop tag teams look like boy scouts.
When the Jump Out Boyz caught you they always made it clear - You were never being "arrested" you were "just going for a ride".
The handcuffs were "for your protection" but as a courtesy they'd cuff your hands in front. Now you would think having your hands out front would be a good thing. Once you were "Stuffed" into the rear on those old Crown Vic Ford's you'd realize that "watch you head" was not a concern but a statement of what to expect next.
Many a thug made the mistake of thinking they were building a rapport with the arresting officer, only to realize that the arresting officer wasn't the one holding your warrant or driving the Crown Vic.
Cuffed, Stuffed, Cramped and Slammed. They'd skip the seat belt and the ride was on.
They'd "Armor All" the hell out of that rear plastic bench seat, and in you'd go, before long you where heading out of town, slamming from side to side in the back of a police cruiser!
You had all you could do to keep from smacking your head against the glass time and time again. Just when you thought the abuse was over, the voice up front would say hold on and brake check and ghost car following too close. Then just as suddenly he'd punch the accelerator and the back of your head would smack the hard plastic seat All the while the voice from the front seat would ask "you're ok right?" The ride was often so brutal that they would stop at the ER before taking you to jail.
Then there was the rumored elevator ride to the 13th floor of the law enforcement center. "Take him up to the 13th Floor he'll talk." (There is no 13th floor only a roof).
Rumors made the gang members think twice about breaking the law.
One such unfounded rumor was that they all had matching tattoos and a cop creed seemingly promoting shootings, this of course violated the department's core values.
While there were never any indictments the department had concerns.
The Jump Out Boyz were big on theater. While the use of an unmarked van was synonymous with the operation, they often used even less obvious vehicles to take down known gang members.
At one time a "Brown" UPS truck was put into service. Then a Charles Chips van. This made gang members suspicious and paranoid of every vehicle on the street.
Sometimes the operation was just a show of force. The idea was to have a half of dozen marked and unmarked units converge on a suspected drug house, swarm the area telling the startled occupants it was just a courtesy call. To make sure everything was alright.
While this tactic had mixed results there were some comical moments like the time when a courtesy visit departed and was well down the block before they realized they left one team member standing on the porch by himself holding only a shotgun chatting it up with the drug dealers.
As Charlotte grew so did the gang related crimes. In the late 1970's the tide began to change and the great migration to the urban north shifted with a move back to the "New South" By the late 1990s the Hidden Valley Kings became a force within Charlotte's street crime.
When Joe Biden tells his story about "Corn Pop" and how Corn Pop was a bad dude, he may actually be talking about a street thug actually named "Korn" one of the original Hidden Valley Kings. He would die by suicide, at least that's what the ME's report said.
The Hidden Valley Kings was an offshoot of the West Bouvard Kings, once they gained in size the Hidden Valley Kings home base shifted to the Hidden Valley Neighborhood located on the city's northeast side.
But the Kings were also the straw the broke Eastland Mall's back.
Hidden Valley was at one time an all white middle class neighborhood of smartly cared for homes and Scott's "Weed and Feed" fertilizer yards. During the sixties and seventies the area prospered and grew with stores restaurants and green well manicured lawns.
Eastway connected the area to Charlotte Country Club and Garinger High School. The school was built to replace the ageing Central High School and was designed in a open and contemporized style. The first graduating class was 100% white and reflected the demographics of the area at the time.
Central Avenue intersected with Eastway Drive and ran out to the modern Eastland Mall. When Eastland Mall opened in 1975 and was at the time the largest indoor mall in the Carolinas. The center piece was a full sized skating rink. Located in the "basement" the entire ice rink was visible from mall both floors above that encircled the arena.
The Lake Apartments on nearby Albemarle Road was were all the hip singles lived. Both Jay Thomas and Robert Murphy (Well known Radio DJ's of the time) had apartments in the complex. One of Arista Records producers lived in the complex so the swag and back stage passes to touring acts flowed non stop.
Then in the late 70's developers swarmed to WT Harris area and built thousands of apartment units. The re-zoning for over 100 parcels of land was made possible by Charlotte City Council with little discussion. But by the 1980's the area was overrun with empty apartments, declining rental rates and was fast becoming a low income housing mecca.
The 80's also brought crime to the Lake Apartments with murders and arson, white flight from similar neighborhoods like Hidden Valley was rapid and as the gangs moved in the violence was overwhelming . By 2000 these once pristine neighborhoods had become a waste land.
Strip-malls along Central, Eastway and Albemarle road started closing and Eastland held on as best it could. Restaurants, Charlies, Steak and Ale, The Fog Cutter, White Horse, and so many other gone.
Then on November 28, 2005, members of the Hidden Valley Kings ran into a rival drug dealer named "Juan Lawrence" who refused to pay "taxes" at Eastland Mall.
After a shootout in the mall's food court, the victim managed to escape. Later that night, the Kings lured Lawrence into a local motel on North Tryon Street as they attempted to ambush him. Once again, Lawrence managed to escape. The Kings chased him down Tryon street in a running gun battle as the passengers of the two vehicles exchanged fire. After colliding with a telephone pole, the victim ran into a nearby neighborhood. After a brief chase, the Kings eventually caught up to the victim and while cornered, killed him, shooting him point-blank with an AK-47
The brutal manner in which the murder occurred finally moved the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to begin taking action against the gang.
CMPD Officers made several arrests of those suspected of the Eastland Mall shootout and Lawrence murder. But it would take four years, to get five of those involved in the shooting to pled guilty to a lesser charges. By then many of the suspects had already served enough time to get back out on the street.
Mecklenburg County District Attorney Peter Gilchrist told the media that it took a long time to move forward in this case because there were no witnesses. The DA's office in order to ensure guilty pleas for all five, had to work to get some of the accused to testify against some of the others.
While those charged in the murder of Juan Lawrence and their cases were grinding through the criminal justice system CMPD moved against the rest of the Hidden Valley Kings Gang.
Over the next two years CMPD would put together a Special Operations Unit to take down the Hidden Valley Kings. They gathered informants and followed the Kings gathering information on how the gang operated. On March 30, 2007, more than one hundred task force agents came down Jump Out Boyz style on the Kings. They arrested over 20 Hidden Valley King members, including the leaders, on multiple charges.
Many would be sentenced to federal prison terms longer than those involved in the Eastland Mall shootout. But the damage to Eastland Mall was fatal. Within five years from the murder of Juan Lawrence the Mall would be vacate and abandoned.
The nearby strip malls and chain restaurants that lined Albemarle Road shuttered as well.
The once thriving area crushed by Charlotte City Council's relentless re-zoning in favor of multi-family affordable housing. The result was white flight from crime, plunging real-estate values and a permanent cultural shift to the area that has made Hickory Grove one of Charlotte's most prolific crime hot spots in 2020.