Mecklenburg County sees increase in violent crimes, decrease in homicides

Mecklenburg County sees increase in violent crimes, decrease in homicides

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The beginning of 2016 has been more violent in Charlotte according to CMPD's latest statistics.

"We have a crime spike, our crimes increasing we recognize that, we don't run from it we face it head on," said Deputy Chief Jeff Estes.

Nearly all crimes except homicides increased in Mecklenburg County this year, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department's first quarter crime stats report.

"Not a lot of good news I have to report to you about crime and where we are," said Estes Thursday morning to reporters.

The county saw a 49.4% increase in commercial burglaries. The stats came back showing 363 cases reported this year compared to 243 last year.

For aggravated assaults, CMPD says there is a 17.1% increase. This year, there were 937 cases compared to 800 last year.

Homicides decreased by 41.2%. Police say 17 homicides were reported this time last year compared to 10 this year.

"Basically, I can tell you that we're up with the exception of homicides which we're absolutely thrilled about," Estes said, "We're up in virtually everything else."

CMPD says they wrapped March up with a 14.1% increase in index offenses compared to last year. Property crime is up by 13.7% and violent crime is up by 16.7%.

For robberies, CMPD saw an increase of 21.4%, with 426 reported this year compared to 351 last year.

Rapes and burglaries were both slightly up, both by less than three percent. Vehicle thefts increased by 28 percent.

Police say 5,751 larcenies were reported this year compared to 4,974 last year.

Officers have been busier this quarter compared to last year.

"We have answered a 11,000 more calls for service then we did the same time, same place last year," Estes said.

CMPD says violent crime has increased and they don't want it to rise this summer. Police say they are going to be tackling guns, drugs and violence and making sure they put the right resources in place.

"We know summertime, people are out of school, it gets hot, people get nerves on end and those numbers can increase exponentially," Estes said, "That's why we're focusing on gun crime. We don't want an aggravated assault to turn into a homicide."

CMPD says it plans to focus on the making sure the most violent offenders and the most violent places are policed. They plan to track their resources minute by minute across divisions to put officers where they are needed. CMPD says they made a similar targeted effort in 2014 and successfully seized illegal guns and made 700 arrests.

"We have 13 divisions so for instance, so we could take one officer off a nightshift who's on a crime reduction unit already and combine with other people across the city," said Putney, "So, that gives you 13 crime fighters right there who then can strategically hit the whole city."

Putney says he also wants to solve existing cases or clear those cases. CMPD has solved 42% of the homicides this year.

"There's fewer cases but we're struggling with our clearance rate," Putney said.

The statistics were released Thursday, as Chief Kerr Putney continues to lobby for more officers and staff for CMPD.

"We are at the point now where we are focused on our most pressing crime types, our violent crime, our gun crimes, our aggravated assaults our robberies," Estes said.

Putney said he has been shuffling the deck and focusing on violent offenders and violent areas.

"What it appears to be to us is people are much more likely to use a gun to resolve a minor dispute, but we're also seeing in our analysis is escalation of violence in some of the more hardened criminals who continue to commit violent crime," Putney said.

The chief says they'll continue to be strategic but he needs more manpower.

"My message to council has been very clear we just need more resources, when I get the 125 and 80, Putney said, "We're talking about 266,000 police service hours, crime fighting and community engagement."

The chief says he has met with city council several times now. Those formal meetings are now over. He says in June they should know for sure what he'll be working with. He has told council 50 is the floor to keep the city safe.

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