Originally from central Illinois, Captain Bryan Crum moved to Charlotte as a young child and graduated from Providence High School. He now leads the University division of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Recently promoted to captain, Bryan has worked at CMPD for 17 years, serving as the lieutenant of the violent crime division. In that role he led several units, including homicide, armed robbery, missing persons, cold case, and victim services. As the violent crime lieutenant, he enhanced cold case investigations, continuing to pursue and obtain sexual assault kit initiative grant funding to ensure that every resource possible is devoted to solving cold cases.
Here, we talk with Captain Crum about his interest in law enforcement, his biggest challenges, and what he likes to do outside of work.
How did you initially get interested in working in law enforcement?
I went to North Carolina State University, where I studied political science, with a concentration in justice systems. I wasn’t sure where my career was going to take me, but since I was interested in the law, I knew political science was in the right general direction.
When did you decide that police work would be your career path?
In college, we had to complete an internship as part of our coursework. I had a couple of family friends that worked at CMPD, so I spent the summer of my junior year here as an intern in the cold case homicide unit.
They had just cleared their first case, which was a double murder, and they were between the arrest and court portions of that case, so I got to follow along with the detectives. They also assigned me the task of digging through case files to see what evidence was there. The file room was full of cases going back to the mid 1960s. We were looking for forensic evidence that we could send out for DNA to clear quickly. In the early 2000s, DNA was really taking off, and we were looking to leverage it to solve some older cases.
In one case, a couple and their young child were murdered at home, and the house was set on fire. Another daughter who was, very fortunately, staying with other family at the time, survived. By chance, she called in to hear the story from detectives. She was in her 30s or 40s by now and had only heard family stories about what happened to her parents and her sister. She wanted to know the real story. I was able to sit with her and the detectives and fill her in on the case.
The files became people to me, and at that point, I realized how important the work is that we do as cops at the local level. We get to touch individual lives. Whether it’s a murder case or just changing the tire on the side of the road or answering sometimes the most routine calls for service, they’re really big events in people’s lives and we’re able to make a difference.
Do you have any past ties with University City?
Yes, I’m excited to be here! I lived briefly in University City for a few years, and my sister attended UNC Charlotte. It’s a community that I feel a part of in many ways.
How can people get better connected to help your division?
When communities are connecting, and then connecting with us, it helps. We have community coordinators that are assigned to each response area, so they get to know the neighborhoods and the people. That’s who you can call when you need help with a problem.
What’s the biggest challenge about policing in University City?
Being the new guy coming in, I have to rely on my folks who are already plugged in, but to really it’s to understand what the community needs. It’s a huge population with a lot of different communities that have different needs. We would be glad to meet our community at some of our community events, like “Coffee with a Cop,” and we ask that people invite us to their community events. We are glad to connect with the community anywhere we can.
Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m a board member with the Charlotte Salute to Heroes Foundation. The foundation partners with area businesses and community members to support first responders and military veterans who experience unexpected personal hardships. It started as a hockey game between police and fire departments, and it’s grown from there. We had a baseball game to fundraise after 9/11, and during Covid, we fed the frontlines. We fed every single police, fire, sheriff’s deputy, volunteer firefighter – everybody in the county – to let them know that the community is still thinking about them.