The Watch with Will Kennedy: Combating Rising Crime in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC — The numbers are pretty shocking. Homicides, robberies, rapes and assaults all up significantly. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say violent crime in Charlotte is up more than 36% over the five-year average.

And it will take more than just adding more police officers to combat the trend.

“You have officers working very hard, all across the department, with one common goal,” says CMPD Deputy Chief Jeff Estes. “And that’s when people commit violent crime, we do our dead level best to arrest them.”

CMPD says there is no Ferguson Effect here. No officers ignoring crimes. But officers and detectives are being stretched further and further.

30 homicides already this year. 53 robberies in the first quarter of 2017. 74 rapes. More than 1,000 aggravated assaults. All increases over the five-year average.

30 year homicide detective Gary McFadden says he’s seeing kids as young as middle school involved.

“They don’t see it as, necessarily, as an armed robbery,” says McFadden. “Even if they have a weapon. They just see it as taking something that they   want.”

Deputy Chief Jeff Estes says a key part of the problem is people reaching for their guns to resolve conflicts.

“People, for whatever reason, want to solve their disputes through violence; increasingly hand guns,” says Estes. “So think nothing of shooting rounds off in a neighborhood at each other.”

“People in the community know that these beefs are going on,” says McFadden. “This is when we want to step in and try to squash these beefs. Say, ‘let’s find some resolution’. Conflict resolution when it’s going on, at the time.”

McFadden is not alone. Many feel it will take the city, community and law enforcement working together.

“We’re not going to allow you to drive by, shoot up the house, drive by kill somebody, and then we maintain that silence,” says Rev. James Barnett with Stop the Killing. “I don’t care what you say about snitchin’. We’re going to get rid of those bad elements in our community.”

“When the city adds more officers, and adds more resources, that is good,” says McFadden. “But I go back to the community. The community has to say , ‘we need to be accountable for the actions in our community’. How can we help you?”

The proposed city budget for next year includes $22 million to add 62 more CMPD officers, and 25 civilian positions, to the department.