Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Charlotte's Police Department Had 72 Hours To Prevent a Double Homicide What Went Wrong

Ask any one in law enforcement officer how to prevent murders and they'll shake their head and shrug their shoulders.

Most crime is predictable, certain areas, creating patterns, certain times of day, but homicides are random unpredictable and seldom preventable.

When the chance to prevent a homicide, when both the victim and the assailant are known in advance when even the location is known in advance, law enforcement needs to move quickly.

Last week CMPD had exactly 72 hours to prevent a double homicide. They didn't. How did this epic fail happen and why?

And in a bigger sense why will the deaths of Jenna Hewitt and Matthew Chaplin forever be tied to Charlotte City Council and Chief Kerr Putney.

Wednesday February 20th 2019 CMPD Officers and Detectives responded to a call for service on Glen Abby Way in the extreme south end of Charlotte. 

A 23 year old acquaintance of a young 16 year old girl (Kate Chaplin) has forced his way into a home with a handgun. He threatens the girl and forcefully takes her cell phone.

Based on information and evidence CMPD Detectives have probable cause to charge the suspect John James Bocek with Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon.

By 4 am the next morning warrants are issued and the clock starts counting down, Jenna Hewitt a friend of the 16 year old and Matthew Chaplin her father have just 72 hours of life remaining.

The Observer's Anna Douglas asked CMPD for the steps taken to try and arrest Bocek and she received the following response.

From CMPD's POI:

While we can not get into exact steps taken, here is a snapshot of the actions taken:

The suspect's name was entered in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database on February 21st at 4:00 a.m. as a wanted suspect. NCIC informs all law enforcement agencies in the country that the suspect is wanted should any agency encounter the suspect.

VCAT was requested to assist with the locating the suspect and the case was assigned Friday morning.

The team was assigned the case and began working to gather intelligence and information leading to the suspect's apprehension.

Information that was gathered indicated that the suspect was transient, moving from location to location.

VCAT communicated with both the Gaston County Police Department and the Union County Sheriff's Office in an effort to apprehend the suspect.

VCAT coordinated efforts with the Gaston County PD to interview the suspect's mother on Saturday (her wedding day).

The mother could not provide members of VCAT with an address for her son.

VCAT continued to actively work this case and several other simultaneously since the received the request. Several of the cases involved murder suspects they were actively working to capture.

They arrested 8 violent criminals last week.

3 of them were murder suspects. 

VCAT made 321 arrest in 2018. 

Last year's arrests included in part: 

51 murder arrests 

14 attempted murder arrests 
116 robbery arrests 
90 assault with a deadly weapon arrests 
18 rape arrests 

CP's Take: (Got to love the excuses from the CMPD PIO noting that VCAT Officers were working other cases and that they even interviewed his mother on her wedding day.)

While CMPD's plausible deniability effort may have merit it glosses over the obvious.

Bocek was no stranger to CMPD or Union County Law Enforcement, his list of arrests while lengthy also shows a pattern of ever more violent offenses. A common trait of murder suspects. His obsession with the 16 year old Chaplin girl had been an ongoing issue, she has refused to "date" him and he's not been taking the rebuke well. 

Progressively violent felons are supposed to be tracked by TARP and the Violent Crimes Task Force - Bocek should have been on the radar long before the night of February 20th and the Mecklenburg County DA’s Office should have made him a priority.

Wednesday when the subject Bocek forcibly entered the house at Glen Abbey Way CMPD officers and detectives found probable cause to charge him with several crimes including armed robbery which escalated his arrest to Charlotte’s VCAT unit.

But 24 hours after the warrants are issued the case is still not assigned to a VCAT team.

The reason at least in part may be because of the "all hands on deck" NBA All-Star weekend. After the long weekend event concluded countless CMPD officers are given time off - bottom line CMPD, already understaffed by 188 officers was extremely short handed last week.

These same issues have be brought to the attention of Charlotte City Council in the week prior to the NBA All-Star Weekend.

Bocek because his last known address was Indian Trail also may have become bogged down because of multiple jurisdictions. Normally not a big deal but the process slows when CMPD is short handed.

VCAT is very methodical the need for intel is important and that takes time and planning.

48 hours after the warrants are issued VCAT Detectives interview Bocek's mother in Gastonia. Remember the assault happened on Wednesday and it is now Saturday. 

Bocek's mother is apparently uncooperative but even if she was and gave his exact location, many of the VCAT Officers work other assignments so they may have only had a handful of VCAT trained officers on duty Saturday. It is not unusual to find only one VCAT Officer on duty in a district on a given shift even less when there’s a lot of time off given.

You need a full team to take down an armed felon and Charlotte’s preference is for an early am entry and capture vs jump out traffic stops. That means fewer opportunities. 

Now at the earliest VCAT will attempt to arrest Bocek on Sunday morning perhaps Monday if they have "dead on" intel and a visual.

Late on Saturday night CMDP dispatch is pulling officers from the South District and Providence to help cover higher crime districts like Independence and Steele Creek. Meaning fewer officers on the streets in South Charlotte.

At midnight Providence Country Club is quiet, the streets are deserted. Anyone driving through the neighborhood after midnight is easy to spot, they stand out even more so someone circling the streets of Glen Abby Way and Sunningdale in the upper middle class golf course community.

Jenna Hewitt and Matthew Chaplin have less that 4 hours to live. VCAT Officers are perhaps taking a break or planning to stage an arrest in Union County. 

At 1 am no one is actively looking for Bocek. There's not a marked CMPD cruiser within miles of the Chaplin residence.

Unfortunately the victim’s location in extreme South Charlotte is part of the problem, even if there was a BOLO for Bocek’s vehicle he could easily enter Mecklenburg County and Charlotte via Providence Road and in less than 3 minutes be at the Chaplin home.

If Bocek is anywhere in Charlotte dozens of traffic cameras will see his car that is anywhere except and far edges of Mecklenburg County. So its up at a sharp eyed officer patrolling the streets to catch a glimpse of the felon. 

But at 2 am there are no CMPD units near Providence Country Club. 

By 3 am Bocek is circling the Providence Country Club neighborhood. Perhaps enraged that the 16 year old is not responding to his text messages. Chaplin and Hewett have less than an hour to live.

Charlotte City Council members are sound asleep, CMPD Chief rolls over in his bed confident that even understaffed the department can handle the night.

A perfect storm of circumstances, beyond the fact the courts let him walk again and again.

Still this didn’t have to happen.

Cedar's Take: The bottom line and solely my opinion is the lack of trained officers available pushed the Bocek arrest to the side. The 24 hour delay in assigning the case to a VCAT team is obviously due to the shortage of officers and the NBA All-Star weekend.

Then there's the elephant in the room question that third rail of Charlotte politics but one that needs to be asked, was Bocek given a free pass or considered low priority because of his color? CMPD VCAT arrested 8 felons and guess how many were African Americans?

I think most of us taxpayers accept dealing with bad checks, vandalism, petty theft, shoplifting, even having our homes broken into and our cars stolen (I have experienced all of the above) as part of living in a big city.

But we expect to be protected from violent criminals and should demand accountability from police the DA and courts.


Anonymous said...

I think CMPD Command would vigorously object to your statements. Because you are dead on. VCAT Unit was undermanned all last week. Taking time off after working 60 plus hours the weekend before. I've also got to agree they went after the mofos and figured the white kid was low risk. Heads need to roll, this is a real fuck-up and it can't be " glossed over" even if VCAT does really good work most of the time. People are dead and not your usual hood rats either. This won't go away with the PIO's they tried but they were busy statement.

Anonymous said...

What happened to South's "Crime Reduction Unit?" Word is Lazy Rob, Cosmo and Tactical Iggy scared off the young, proactive officers on that unit because they "worked too hard."

Anonymous said...

Someone said on here that South was the land of misfit toys and that's a fact.

Anonymous said...

The situation is tragic all around but it was not an “epic fail” by South Division, VCAT or CMPD. The suspect had warrants, yes we all can attest to that. Not having a current address and being that the suspect had ties to multiple jurisdictions, made it challenging to locate the wanted suspect. How about shifting the blame in other directions? Let’s look into the justice system of why the suspect who had a “lengthy” criminal record, but still on the street at 23 years of age. Has anyone researched his criminal history in North Carolina? Seems multiple justice jurisdictions have failed there. Next, let’s look into why a 16 year old was dating a 23 year old. What precautions were taken by the victim after the “robbery”? Not to victimize the victims but something was not right there It’s time to stop blaming the Police for every problem in society. It’s time to start looking into the broken justice system and start holding society a little more accountable.

Anonymous said...

All good points 12:23

16 year olds date and break up with 23 year olds all the time its not unheard of and normally doesn't end in murder.

The facts will come out, maybe the alarm wasn't turned on maybe the 16 year old let him in maybe it wasn't as it seems.

The courts certainly are to blame but we are the last hope the innocent have, we are that thin blue line we brag about and in this case we failed.

This pile of human excrement should have been a priority. Those 29s had no business bouncing from desk to desk on Thursday.

If command wants to blame shift to the DA or the Courts fine but it was CMPD's job to get this guy and we didn't its not just on VCAT its on the entire department.

Anonymous said...

3:31 is right there's a lot of blame to go around but the truth is CMPD should have picked the guy up that night.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps blame needs to be put on the City Manager Marcus Jones. Last year CMPD was 180 officers short and this year is even worse. This is after the city has spent spent thousands recruiting and poaching laterals from BFE. Officers asked for a 15% raise across the board and were given a pitiful 2.5% raise. It's a simple equation Marcus, and the blame is on you! The citizens of Charlotte deserve better. If you want to make this city world-class, you need to open up the city's wallet and pay your officers.

Anonymous said...

I thought Chief McFadden was going to protect us? Oh wait that was only people of color you rich white people are on your own.

Anonymous said...

CMPD needs to stop telling themselves. When you have nepotism across the board with black gets ugly.

Toss in some whores like Stuk Stuk getting promoted and you have total chaos. Who is that new Sgt on 3rd? I've never even heard of them!

Mcfadden and Putney are both in it for the cash only. Graue is hooking up Collins and thats that.

Anonymous said...

The City Manager is to blame. His job is to adequately fund the department, which he has failed to do. He can right this sinking ship by alligning CMPD pay with comparable cities and making staffing his top priority. Time to pay up Mr. Jones. Don't turn this city into Charltimore or Charlanta.

Anonymous said...

All you crybabies must be first shifters who haven't served a 29 in a decade. Before leaving for greener pastures I served 8 felonies including 3 RDW warrants on a guy on parole guessed it: RDW... $2,000 secured and dude walked out on bond when I was finishing KBCOPS and went to the Transit Center to catch a bus. If you think for a second this little white kid with no felony convictions is getting a secured bond then you need to stop smoking that stuff you turn in as "found property" when you find it in the guys pocket. EM at worst but most likely a written promise inside of 12 hours. Haven't both the Chief District Court Judge and Chief Magistrate gone on TV saying they believe everyone should get out of jail? Ya, blame CMPD its gotta be their fault.

This ain't on CMPD VCAT, CMPD South, CMPD Admin or anyone. This is a whack job who was made bolder by the DA's Magistrates and Judges in Meck and Union County and knew he could do whatever he wanted and no one would give a damn. Sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

"Haven't both the Chief District Court Judge and Chief Magistrate gone on TV saying they believe everyone should get out of jail?"

" a whack job who was made bolder by the DA's Magistrates and Judges in Meck and Union County and knew he could do whatever he wanted and no one would give a damn. "


Anonymous said...

In the history of this city, I’m sure this was the first homicide ever committed in which the suspect had an outstanding warrant(s). No way has that ever occurred ibefore n West, North or East Charlotte, only in the South area. <————(sarcasm for the slow folks). Because it happened in the Providence Country Club it receives so much attention and finger pointing. Murders happen in other parts of the city, they are usually a quick blurb or a few day news story at best. We don’t see blame being thrown around for those like we are seeing on this one. People need to get a grip on reality. Criminals go on the run and have various places to hide and elude law enforcement.

Society needs to understand Police work before they can comment about it. People think that once a warrant is issued, a 24 manhunt begins and remains. That is so far from the truth.

Stop blaming the Officers and Detectives, they did their job. Tragedy occurs, even in the richest of areas.

Anonymous said...

You can't blame the cops for some slut's choice in a boyfriend. Stop expecting law enforcement to clean up your daughter's mess. You all need to lock your doors. Dumbass.

Anonymous said...

Nice victim shaming there 7:03 keep up the good work.

SteveN said...

How about blaming the father for not packing a firearm and shooting this motherfucker as soon as he forced entry??? It's not like he didn't know what was going on........That piece of shit telegraphed his intentions.

Anonymous said...

If there is more to the story then so be it, but I'm reading that she wasn't in a relationship with the POS.

I've also heard that he told her several times he was going to kill her. No reason this case wasn't given the highest priority.

I'm not CMPD but work in the DA's office and this case is getting a lot of informal attention. Clearly the lack of manpower is a factor.

Anonymous said...

If you have people like Bryan Klimasewski dumping this place, then you know you have problems. Sweet kid, but that stung with weirdo dumps the department.

Anonymous said...

I reckon CMPD is down 200-220 officers at a minimum. HR is a complete joke and as transparent as a cow turd. PRDs are months behind schedule and we are bleeding officers by the minute. We are on the brink and the city is burning. Officers are sick of explaining to citizens why it took us 1-2+ hours to respond to a call for service. If you want qualified applicants and seasoned officers to stay, the city is going to have to pay up. 20% across the board, Mr. City Manager. The ball is in your court.

Anonymous said...

Cedar has got this cold, the Bocek warrants might have been by the book but it wasn't given the priority it deserved. I don't he's attacking CMPD or VCAT if memory hasn't failed me he's got family here and may know more than he lets on. Everyone knows who gets assigned to South and we all know we are short staffed. Bottom line is City council needs to shelve their social welfare projects and start focusing on the basic shit. You can't raise the min wage and not increase officer pay. You can't raise property taxes (MBOCC) and not increase officer pay. You can't recruit good officers college degreed military time clean background check with no increase in the current base pay. If city council doesn't act in the best interest of the officers this shit storm is going to spiral out of control.

Anonymous said...

They dont care about about white people in Charlotte. Thats why the worst cops sit on Rea Road eating ice cream. P.IGGY

Anonymous said...

Kids at Ardrey Kell use heroin. likely he was her dealer and she owed him money.

Anonymous said...

10:22 Funny you mention something not being given the priority it deserves. Something the DA's office fails to do on a constant basis.

Anonymous said...

A lot of this started many years back when for some strange reason it was decided that the Po-Lease couldn't go out and serve warrants and arrest people and you had to have VCAT go out and do it? Maybe because of the dumbing down of the department and the lack of any kind of tactical or any training really did it? Why if the patch on the front of my vest says Po-Lease and I don't have a neat VCAT t-shirt under it I can't serve a warrant? Or maybe because I'm not "undercover" like they are?!? They get to do lots of good training which is nice, but everyone needs to be out getting the job done.

Anonymous said...

8:55 Amen BTW I know most the VCAT guys they put in long hours a few even have special ops backgrounds but the pay is so low most are just looking to get their time in and quit.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with some of this, but I have to say that it is stupid that they want us to stop all efforts to find a wanted felon when VCAT is looking for them. I understand they don’t want anyone messing up their investigation, but when they send out an email saying someone is wanted and not to actively look for them because it is their case, I delete the email. Why keep it and save the person to memory?