CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have made nearly half as many traffic stops this year compared to 2019 because of the pandemic. It’s just one of the major changes CMPD saw in crime statistics this year because of COVID-19.
“Certainly we’re human beings, just like everyone else, and we have the same concerns about our health and safety and well being, but we also have a job to do,” Major Brian Foley told WBTV.
Major Foley helped explain some of the crime statistics WBTV requested, to find out how the pandemic has impacted policing in 2020.
The steepest declines have been in traffic stops, down 36 percent, and residential breaking and entering, down 31 percent.
“With so many people working from home, home based crime residential burglaries that would normally occur while people are at work are down significantly. Auto thefts, car break ends. All those things are down significantly,” Major Foley said.
While property crimes are down potentially because of people’s behavior during the pandemic, Foley explains the decline in traffic stops and citations, down 40 percent, are largely due to a shift in CMPD tactics.
“Chief Jennings has been very intentional about CMPD’s impact to people who are experiencing joblessness, homelessness, all of the things that are causing people to really struggle,” Major Foley said.
“You know, if I stop somebody on the street and I talked to them because, for example, the registration is out of date by a year or they have perhaps a tire that’s not up to standard, am I going to go back and write somebody a ticket that’s going to cost them, with court costs, a minimum #250-$300 plus penalties on top of that for somebody who can’t even afford to feed their family?”
Despite these major declines, arrests are only down 16 percent and violent crimes have continued to rise.
Between January and November of 2019 there were 99 homicides compared to 111 this year.
Aggravated assaults are up 14 percent and people shooting into homes and buildings that are occupied has increased by 33 percent.
“One of the impacts that we’ve seen with Covid-19 is that because of restrictions, because of people staying at home, now if I have an online dispute with you or beef with you, I may know that you’re at home. So I’m going to drive by your house and maybe even pull a gun out and shoot at your house,” Major Foley said.
But the biggest challenges in 2021 might not be Covid-19 related but instead due to Charlotte’s ballooning population.
A report given to the Safe Communities committee highlights that Charlotte’s growth is outpacing the department’s size and that calls and violent crime are continuing to increase.
“It’s not easy, but we need people to be able to come forward to put on this badge and represent your community, represent Charlotte,” Majpr Foley said.