The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is taking new measures this summer to prevent crime.
The department will use money from a Justice Assistance Grant to pay officers’ overtime as well as increase staffing and resources.
The CMPD will focus on creating a more visible police presence to pedestrians this summer as they aim to increase the number of officers on “walking beats” in areas with heavy foot traffic during peak bar and restaurant hours.
During the summer, the number of patrons frequenting these establishments skyrockets, an influx that comes along with an increase in violent crime and property crimes, like vandalism or theft. Not only would this place officers closer to areas where crimes have a higher likelihood to take place, but a strong police presence in these areas could just as well deter perpetrators of crime altogether.
Chief Kerr Putney outlined CMPD’s plan to increase the number of officers on bike and motorcycle patrol as well.
Police also plan to make more efforts to patrol Charlotte’s greenways around the main trails, parking lots, and recreation areas.
These increased efforts to prevent crime this summer come into play as Charlotte’s homicide rates continues to rise.
Of the 46 homicides investigated so far this year by CMPD, about 26% of homicide victims did not know their killer. Having one in four people being killed by a stranger is a surprisingly high number, and that 26% rose today from its previous 20%. Despite that, Putney said “most likely, if you’re going to lose your life at the hands of somebody else, you’re going to know them.”
Another major finding lies in the fact that half of homicide victims this year were between the ages of 18 and 34.
“What we’re seeing this time is a younger group that’s much more prone to grab a gun to settle a dispute,” Putney said.
There is also a trend with repeat crime offenders, since 37% of homicide suspects have prior arrest charges and a couple of those suspects had even been previously arrested for homicide. Chief Putney said the department is renewing their efforts to successfully prosecute these repeat offenders and keep them removed from the community.
Drug-related homicides are actually trending down at the moment, although Chief Putney said the bigger drug problem currently rests with overdoses.
A couple of the statistics released by the CMPD did not reveal much change from the statistics in previous years. African-Americans are still disproportionately represented as both the victims and the perpetrators in the homicide incidents so far this year, with about 80% of homicide victims and 74% of homicide suspects being African-American.
Not surprisingly, the majority of the investigated homicide cases this year involved a gun. However, the CMPD has succeeded in taking 1,048 illegal guns off the street so far this year, which is a 25% increase from last year. If they keep this rate steady, we might hope to see a decrease in gun-involved homicides in the near future.