CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bell Atlantic Mobile today provided six wireless phones to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for a pilot project giving University-area businesses and residents a direct line to police officers on patrol. The phones will be used by CMPD's Charlie 1 District covering northern Mecklenburg County and areas around UNC Charlotte.
"These six Bell Atlantic Mobile wireless phones will help combat crime in northern Mecklenburg County," said Captain Chuck Johnson of the CMPD. "Wireless phones will be put in the hands of on-duty officers patrolling troubled neighborhoods and high-crime areas. Neighborhood watch block captains and business owners can call officers directly if they see a crime taking place."
Jerle Freeze, manager of the Bell Atlantic Mobile Communications store in The Village Shopping Center on W.T. Harris Blvd., joined Johnson at the Charlie 1 District Office to announce the donation. The phones and service are provided through the company's "Wireless at Work..." program. Since 1996, Bell Atlantic Mobile's "Wireless at Work..." community service program has donated more than 450 phones, airtime and 600 HopeLine® wireless voice mail boxes in the Southeast to aid neighborhood watch programs, victims of domestic violence and homeless shelters.
Neighborhood block captains and business owners in high crime areas will be given phone numbers for each of the wireless phones and encouraged to call if they witness a crime taking place. Previously, residents and business owners witnessing a crime would call 9-1-1 and wait for police to respond.
"This wireless technology gives the University-area a direct line to our police officers in the field," Johnson said. "We hope the phones will help to reduce crime, cut down response time, and build long- term relationships with the community."
The Charlie 1 area is populated by more than 100,000 residents and covers about 190 square miles of residential neighborhoods and businesses districts. Charlie 1 has the highest property crime rate in Mecklenburg County with reports of more than 3,200 cases of larceny in 1998, according to statistics from the CMPD. The area also had 447 assaults, 27 rapes and eight homicides in 1998.
"This pilot project is the first of its kind here in Charlotte," Freeze said. "We're glad our wireless technology can be used to increase public safety in the University area. The hope is that these phones will not have to be used often to report emergencies, but when help is needed or a crime is taking place, this area can rest assured that help will be on the way."
Editor's Note: Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East covering 154,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data, and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 7.7 million customers and 8,800 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Through its "Wireless at Work..." community service program, the company uses its technology to help individuals and communities improve security and emergency communications. Bell Atlantic Mobile's parent, Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE:BEL) is one of the world's largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 states and international investments in Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim. For more information on Bell Atlantic Mobile visit: www.bam.com; on global operations visit: www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide