Charlotte-Mecklenburg's first black police chief, Rodney Monroe, will retire July 1 after leading the agency during a period of steady crime reduction, including a record low homicide total, the Charlotte Observer reports. Monroe, 58, was hired as chief in 2008 after stints in Macon, Ga., and in Richmond, Va. His predecessor, Darrel Stephens, was a nonconfrontational boss known for his book smarts but criticized because of the city's soaring crime rate. Monroe is known as a tough law-and-order cop who learned policing during 21 years in Washington, D.C.'s police department.
The year before Monroe started as chief, 75 people were killed in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Seven years later, the department investigated 42 homicides, the lowest number since police began keeping track of uniform crime statistics in 1977. The police department claimed credit for the crime drop, citing better use of technology and an increased emphasis on patrol. It's unclear how big of a role the tactics played. Charlotte and other cities have been seeing drops in violent crime for two decades, a trend that has baffled criminologists.