CMPD officers make "reel" connections with local youth on the water

- You can learn a lot about someone fishing with them over three or four hours.

“Oh yeah everybody remembers the first time they went fishing, caught a fish with the policeman," Lt. Jeff Harless said. 

Lt. Harless from CMPD's North Tryon Division is the captain of numerous fishing expeditions. Three times a summer he brings a handful of young kids to a fishing hole where offices make "reel" connections.

“We have those conversations that you don’t have when officers are on the scene of a domestic violence or a robbery, or any call for service, even an accident," Lt. Harless said. 

Just before one of his fishing trips Lt. Harless was up late working a double homicide. 2017 has been a violent year.

“I think the increase we’re having in particular homicides...to me it shows a society overall a lack of respect for human life...lack of value for it," he said. 

The majority of victims and suspects he sees are young kids.

“I don’t know at what point we’re missing those lessons with children but apparently they’re missing something. We just need to connect with them and try to figure out how we can instill those values back into them," Lt. Harless said. 

CMPD is getting results by reeling in the ones they hope won't get away, like Austin Gatewood, a 14-year-old manchild who may have a future in football, or maybe fishing. 

Austin: I just caught a fish 

Reporter: Make you feel good? 

Austin: Yeah 

Reporter: What did it feel like?

Austin: I don't know this is the first time catching a fish

It's moments like this that will have a lasting impact. 

“We’ve had real good success with officers going back in the neighborhoods," Lt. Harless said. "You're going to know who he is and 9 out of 10 times they’re going to talk to us."

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