Local group studying whether Charlotte needs homicide task force

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A small group of people in Charlotte is studying whether the mayor and the city council should appoint a new homicide task force.

"The group working now, individuals and community organizations, who are concerned with homicide rates here in Charlotte decided to get together just to have a conversation about what's going on and to see where that conversation might lead and what it led to is us doing a survey in the community to see what people thought caused homicides and what they might see as solutions," said Willie Ratchford.

Ratchford, the chair of Community Relations Committee, says people are alarmed at the increasing number of homicides in the city.

So far, 81 people have been killed in Charlotte.

"We don't want this thing to get out of hand," Ratchford said. "We want to take some proactive steps working as a group and working with the community to address this issue."

After a bloody year on the streets in Charlotte in 2005, the city formed a homicide task force, which made several recommendations.

This year, several community members and the chief of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have urged the city to revisit the recommendations made 12 years ago.

Ratchford says "we're working with folks in the community and city government to look at how we would like to implement some of those and to also come up with some new recommendations."

The group met for the first time in early November and decided to do a survey to find out what residents see as the current causes for the rising homicides and what they see as solutions.

Ratchford says the group has some options about what to recommend to the city. He expects a decision in early 2018.

"To recommend the appointment of the homicide task force, to recommend community dialogue and conversations about homicides rates in the community and how we might work together to begin to address those, to work to get the community to understand that our safety is not just the job of police officers but the job of police officers and citizens working together and that means working together to reduce homicides in Charlotte," Ratchford said.

Robert Dawkins of Safe Coalition is a member of the group.

"Hopefully this will be what the city needs and we get the wheels started to actually get a homicide task force formed," he said.

For Dawkins, forming a group to study whether the city needs a homicide task force is "frustrating."

"This is something we always talk about when we're dealing with the bureaucracy in Charlotte," he said. "We will jump through whatever hoops are needed to get people in one spot to come up with a serious task force to address this."

Wednesday evening, Dawkins and members of the group will review 800 surveys received from the community.

"In all of the communities we've knocked in, people have expressed a concern. People from different walks of life, different neighborhoods have given different replies to what they see as the causes but everybody does admit there's a problem with Charlotte," Dawkins said. "A lot of things people were saying were either more police in their neighborhoods, or stricter rules around domestic violence to things the city won't have control over. There needs to be more prayer in school."

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