Gastonia sees 50 percent decrease in homicides from 2016 to 2017

(Bria Bell | WBTV)
(Bria Bell | WBTV)

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Gaston County has seen a decrease in the number of homicides. In the year 2016, there were a total of 12 compared to the five homicides in 2017.

In Gastonia, the county's largest city, police officers are seeing much of the same success as their homicide numbers have gone down by 50 percent.

"I think we have a wonderful town, a wonderful city. I enjoy the green-ways here, I enjoy going out shopping and things like that," Gastonia's Chief of Police, Robert Helton said.

Chief Helton says he takes pride in a place with great people and promise, so his department of officers work incredibly hard to keep the community safe.

Numbers don't lie. The homicide rate from 2016 to 2017 in Gaston county's largest city has gone down.

"We are very blessed and fortunate that our numbers did drop this year, they dropped by 50 percent," Chief Helton said.

The chief says there are many elements that go into the lowered number of homicides.

"I don't claim to have the answer to all of those things, and I can't put a finger on why crime goes up and down."

He added that he wants to keep that downward trend going.

"Any homicide, any death from a criminal activity is too many, and we want to reduce that number even further."

Many of the homicide victims had some sort of relationship to their killer. Chief Helton says one of the most important issues his department is honing in on is domestic violence.

"It's something that's hard for us to see what's happening or get involved until someone calls us. So we want to have those relationships so that we are getting those calls, to reach those people and share information, before it comes to the point of a homicide," Helton said.

But the Gastonia Police Department is not taking all the credit. The chief says his officers have had some extended help with their efforts to decrease killings and have been able to get 83 violent people off the streets.

"We can't just work within the compounds and the city limits of Gastonia, we have to join hands with our partners, both state and federal."

In October, the Gastonia Police department received grant funds through the Community of Gaston County to help officers better serve domestic violence victims. If you are a person affected by domestic violence, a link of resources can be found here.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.