CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Homicides and violent crime soared in 2019. Charlotte City Council is making it a priority in 2020 to make sure that doesn't happen again.
“This is our reputational issue now,” Mayor Vi Lyles said. “(The solution) can’t just be about policing, that’s not possible.”
To get a better grasp of where crime is occurring, CMPD identified four hot spots- West Sugar Creek Road and I-85, Beatties Ford Road and LaSalle Street, Nations Ford and Arrowood roads and Central Avenue and Sharon Amity Road.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Deputy Police Chief Gerald Smith said West Sugar Creek's 13 low-budget, cash-only motels are contributing to the problem.
"There is no accountability," Smith said. "We, as a city, have to hold them more accountable to the problems that are going on (at) their property."
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said 8% of the city’s violent crime occurs in those four areas. The four areas encompass two square miles, which is 0.5% percent of the area that CMPD is responsible for patrolling.
Community activists said issues in those four areas are nothing new but the approach the city takes has to be.
"What I want them to do is a public health approach, led by the city of Charlotte, backed up by people and data here in Charlotte," Robert Dawkins with SAFE Coalition said. "I want to hear more than about the four neighborhoods we already have known that account for 8% of the crimes."
The city's Safe Communities Committee will be tasked with coming up with an action plan
Leaders said it will require the city to work with the county, school system and community
“Until we put them all together and figure out how they work together, nothing is going to change systematically,” Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said.
CMPD recommended the city of Charlotte create a violence interruption program that focuses on de-escalation, employment and providing social services. Smith cited Better Family Life in St. Louis as a great program the city of Charlotte could model after.
CMPD currently engages in hot spot policing and the city of Charlotte offers focused deterrence and youth diversion programs. The three are considered best practice and evidence-based way to address violence.
"I really believe that the neighborhoods are going to step up and help us make good decisions," Lyles said.
City leaders identified four building blocks to reduce violence: collaborating with the community, implementing a violence interruption program, investing in community efforts and using data and evidence.
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