‘Gut check’: CMPD concerned about juvenile crime heading into summer

CHARLOTTE — Police are urgently warning about teen crime.

Week after week, Channel 9 has reported on young people accused in violent crimes across the Charlotte area. Reporter Hunter Sáenz spoke one-on-one with a lieutenant who said this issue is top of mind as we head into summer break.

By the end of next week, nearly every school in our area will be out for summer and police are worried about a spike in crime, specifically in juvenile crime.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department sounded the alarm on Wednesday, which was the same day they announced the arrest of a 14-year-old boy for murder.

Our cameras were there last November after police said 21-year-old Quantarrius Sturdivant was gunned down along Rachel Street in Druid Hills. Now, six months later, police said the 14-year-old pulled the trigger.

“It’s time for a gut check,” said CMPD Lt. Kevin Pietrus.

Pietrus couldn’t talk specifics about that case, but he did say a 14-year-old being arrested for homicide sadly isn’t rare these days.

“It’s shocking to the conscience, but it’s not a surprise in the sense that we’re not used to seeing it,” he said.

It’s why he and his fellow officers are worried about this summer -- when kids are let out of school, we usually see a spike in crime.

“As a city, we are seeing more and more juveniles as suspects of crimes,” Pietrus said.

He said that applies to all types of crimes.

CMPD said last year, its officers arrested 238 juveniles for gun-related violent crimes. Nearly a thousand were victims of gun-related crimes.

“How do we go back to where it would be a true surprise to see a juvenile, to see a young person, commit crimes -- whether they’re violent or not?” Pietrus asked.

Lt. Pietrus said everyone has a role in keeping kids out of crime, and it starts with parents.

“We have to supervise our young people,” he said. “We have to know where they are, where they’re hanging out, who they’re hanging out with.”

“We are asking that someone -- an adult, a parent or guardian -- be supervising these young people; giving them tasks, keeping them occupied,” he added.

There are many summer programs in our area, some of which are even free. Our partners at the Charlotte Observer have compiled of list of them:

(WATCH BELOW: Mecklenburg County awarding millions to local groups helping prevent youth crime)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.