CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The city started the first City Council meeting of 2020 by taking a closer look at violent crime data and violence prevention strategies.
- In 2019, Charlotte had 108 homicides
- The city paid for an analysis report about its homicides
- The report showed four areas were more prone to murders
In 2019, Charlotte had 108 homicides marking one of the deadliest years of the last decade.
On Monday, city staff presented a report, which had been in the works for six months, at the council’s strategy session.
"This is the first time that all the entities are coming together, trying to come up with one plan," Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones said.
The City Manager’s Office, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, and I&T Center for Data Analysis worked with partners at Bloomberg Philanthropies and John Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence on this analysis.
After reviewing data from 2017 to the third quarter of 2019, the team found people between the ages of 18 and 24 made up 21 percent of homicide victims despite being just 10 percent of the population.
In addition, the team found 25 percent of homicides stemmed from an argument, and 20 percent were domestic-violence related.
CMPD Deputy Chief Gerald Smith briefed the council on four areas identified as hot spots for criminal activity.
- I-85 and Sugar Creek Road
- Beatties Ford Road and LaSalle Street
- Nations Ford Road and Arrowood Road
- Central Avenue and Sharon Amity Road
“You’ve got 8 percent of the violent crime coming to two square miles, which is less than 1 percent of the area we police,” Smith said.
CMPD covers 438 square miles. Three out of the four areas had 14 homicides last year.
Mayor Vi Lyles indicated two of those areas have been hot spots for crime consistently.
“My hope is after tonight is that we actually have a city and a county that pulls together with people who live here, people who have to live in the communities and we deal with those areas that we are seeing increasing violence,” Lyles said.
Michael and Sylvia Smith, who were in attendance at the meeting, lost their 23-year-old son, Samuel Stitt, to gun violence in Charlotte last year. The Smiths and police don't know who killed him.
The couple wants to prevent other families from going through the same heartache.
“We lost our son in August, and to me this is a way of honoring him," Michael Smith said.
On Monday, the Smiths, who are involved in community groups that help with crime prevention, wanted to learn the city's plans to tackle the problem.
“It’s refreshing and encouraging that the city has such a strong commitment to eliminating the violence,” Sylvia Smith said.
However, they understand it will require everyone in the community to get involved.
“It’s going to take grassroots organizations, everyday citizens to bring about some change,” Michael Smith said.
According to the research team, the city is already implementing some programs to reduce violence. However, they should look into programs in other cities that have made a difference. In addition, they advise to collaborate and share information among departments and governments.
The findings will now be referred to the council’s Community Safety Committee. The mayor also plans to speak with county leaders about ways to collaborate.