They are Charlotte's finest going after Charlotte's not so fine. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department's Violent Criminal Apprehension Team (VCAT) tracks down and then takes down the city's most wanted fugitives. We're talking murderers, rapists, armed robbers, and more. This eleven-man team (including one recently added woman) is the only one of its kind in the Southeast. VCAT combines investigative and tactical skills to find and arrest the bad guys. The team has thrown 1,185 in jail since it was formed in 2005 in response to the city's then-rising number of outstanding robbery warrants. We took a moment to get the lowdown on a few of them.
Vitals: Thirty-eight. Michaud is a sniper, SWAT team member, and firearms instructor.
Favorite part of being a sniper? "I like the art of sneaking around and watching people doing what they're not supposed to be doing. You're a part of a team, but it's also a personal challenge. The biggest challenge is trying to outsmart them—watching the bad guys do stuff they're not supposed to be doing when they don't know you're there. We're hiding in plain sight—waiting and watching."
Andy Hall (aka "Pastor Hall")
Vitals: Thirty-four. Hall also works with the U.S. marshals fugitive task force, has had one of his cases featured on America's Most Wanted, and is a Medal of Valor recipient, an award given by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department to officers who have risked their lives in order to preserve others'. Hall is charged with the task of getting fugitives to allow VCAT in their homes.
Why the nickname? "A pastor was accused of sexual assault of a juvenile, so I posed as another pastor on the phone to find out where he was. He bought it, told me he was home, and just a few minutes later we had him."
Vitals: Thirty-eight. The Citadel graduate holds a law degree and is a Medal of Valor recipient. A former narcotics detective with the City of Charleston Police Department, Page is also a SWAT negotiator and teaches at the CMPD police academy.
Criminals say the darndest things: "We have an armed robbery suspect who says he's willing to turn himself in as soon as he recovers from his breast implant surgery."
Sgt. Steve Winterhalter (aka "Swoop")
Vitals: Thirty-three. VCAT's top dog, Winterhalter also served on the street crime task force within the metro division before coming to VCAT. He's also on SWAT team.
So why the nickname? He's perfected a flip (aka "the swoop") in the front of his hair. It stays in place even after a twelve-hour standoff.
Vitals: Thirty-seven. A SWAT team member, Kimbell is also a Marine, a Medal of Valor recipient, and has served on the ATF/violent crime unit in Charlotte.
He's amazed by fugitives' resilience: "We had a guy a couple of years ago wanted for robberies and home invasion in South Carolina. We tracked him to a second-story motel room, and he managed to jump the balcony, land on a car, bounce off the car, hit the ground, and pop off running. And just five months earlier he'd been laid up with multiple gunshot wounds."