City leaders discuss conflict-resolution to deter rise in crime in Charlotte

City leaders discuss conflict-resolution to deter rise in crime in Charlotte
City leaders in Charlotte-Mecklenburg shared their current plan of action in response to the increase of crimes in the city.

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - City leaders in Charlotte-Mecklenburg shared their current plan of action in response to the increase of crimes in the city.

Police Chief Kerr Putney says of the 49 homicides as of May 2019, 14 of those stemmed from an argument and a lack of conflict resolution.

Putney was joined by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox- both say the uptick of crime is not an issue that can be resolved without the help of the community.

“We can’t police our way out of this problem,” Chief Putney said. “The entire community needs to engage to find solutions. We need to make sure everyone in this community has the skills they need to deal with conflict without resorting to violence.”

Wilcox says the increase of crime affects students when they return home to crime in their neighborhoods or lose a loved one.

The superintendent says CMS has implemented safety measures in schools including upgrading their security system and conducting random screenings for weapons. He says the district has also increased the number of social workers, counselors and psychologists.

Putney says their collaborative goal is to teach students conflict resolution so that issues inside schools don’t escalate and require mediation.

Putney, who also discussed the department’s problem solving partnerships with organizations in the city, says conflict-resolution courses will teach people how to resolve minor issues by talking.

Community Relations Executive Director Willie Ratchford says the community must acknowledge the increase of violence in the city.

“We say 'this is not Charlotte. This is not who we are, but this is our reality and it’s happening almost on a daily basis,” Ratchford said.

Ratchford says the conflict-resolution courses teaches people their options when encountering a conflict like active listening skills and how to deescalate problems.

The police chief says they are working to shift the culture of gun usage.

“Guns are for hunting and protecting. Not for conflict resolution,” the chief said. " I think it’s a culture we are trying to change. We are trying to get to the root cause as to why kids are reaching for guns to resolve minor conflicts."

CMPD is hosting a community conversations Thursday night to discuss ending the violence in the community. The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Palmer Building at 2601 E. 7th Street.

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