CMPD unit takes new approach to curb violent crimes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An old unit at CMPD has a new mission that is helping them track violent criminals and crack unsolved homicide cases.

The Targeted Response and Apprehension team, or TRAP, has been around for years, focusing mostly on identifying suspects in property crimes like shoplifting.

CMPD changed TRAP’s focus TO violent crimes, specifically homicides, because those rates are on the rise.

CMPD officials said that shift is showing positive results.

“These are not your typical cases we're making. We're making cases that are substantial,” said Lt. Patrick Matthews, who oversees the unit of about a dozen detectives.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Eyewitness News went along as the TRAP unit picked up a man wanted for questioning in connection with a death investigation in east Charlotte.

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“He was very surprised, and that's how we like to operate,” said Sgt. Steve Fischbach, who was leading the operation that played out at a mobile home park in Cabarrus County. “My detectives are very good at setting up around someone, watching them and waiting for that opportune time to move in.”

It was the third arrest his team had made in three days.

They were all persons of interest in homicide investigations.

“We're there to develop that big case. We're not there to put a Band-Aid on a problem,” Matthews said. Chief Kerr Putney said the new approach that TRAP is taking has made a difference.

“We'll take information any way we can get it, and a lot of the work that TRAP is doing is getting us that leverage,” Putney said.

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Some of the information the TRAP unit has uncovered has given homicide detectives new leads in old, unsolved, cases.

Fischbach said that has brought new hope for the victims’ families.

“They definitely appreciate the fact that the police department hasn't given up, and now we're trying something completely different than we have before,” he said.