New plan presented to Meck County leaders in effort to reduce violent crime

CHARLOTTE — An ambitious, new five-year plan has Mecklenburg County considering a different approach to reducing violent crime.

On Tuesday night, the county’s office of violence prevention presented what is called “The Way Forward” to the board of county commissioners.

Included in the plan are several different approaches on how to address violence and ways to prevent it.

“The Way Forward” is focused on reducing the number of murders in the county. It outlines where violence happens, who it affects and the leading causes behind it.

At last check, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said the homicide rate is still climbing, with 92 murders so far in Charlotte this year.

Tianna Nelson is still grieving and searching for answers after her son was a victim of the violent crime crisis. Kashawn Nelson was killed during a robbery in May of this year.

“My only child, I lost everything, I do not have any other children, my world,” she said.

“The Way Forward” outlines five focus areas in combatting spiking crime: community engagement and partnerships, support for youth and families, economic opportunity, intergovernmental collaboration and safer and healthier neighborhoods.

The idea proposes treating violence as a public health issue to reverse the trends, according to Tracie Campbell, senior health manager with Mecklenburg County.

“Public health is rooted in prevention which means we intend to address the root causes of violence that impact our community,” she said. “The goals in this plan are very lofty.”

The proposal pledges to reduce homicides and gun-related assaults by 10% each. The five focus areas also have set performance indicators and targets to hit by 2028.

The markers include supporting at least 15 community partners using evidence-based strategies to reduce violence, a 25% increase in use of mental health services among kids and families, $3 million for co-investment from businesses and philanthropic organizations and 50% improvement in residents’ perception of safety and quality of life in areas most impact by violence.

Team Up Connections is a Charlotte nonprofit that works with at-risk kids. Channel 9 spoke with its president about the importance of having a network of support for young people.

“If the parents are not prepared to help these kids and to educate the kids in the right way, the kids are left on their own,” said Darryl Sturdivant.

Sturdivant explained how his nonprofit steps in to help kids and teens.

“The kids are going to be misguided. They’re going to receive information from people that don’t have their best interests at hand,” he said. “And the kids just need help right now. And Team Up Connections is here to provide that.”

Nelson said Tuesday night’s presentation was nice, but it left the grieving mother wanting specifics.

“I appreciated the fact that they are identifying the violence in Charlotte as a crisis,” she said, but things were still lacking. “A budget, where will the funds go? I think that’s the key thing here, the money is there, but where is the money going?”

(WATCH BELOW: Program aimed at curbing violence in Charlotte receives $1 million for expansion)

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.