Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Crime Down in Charlotte in 2017, Despite Jump in Homicides, Rapes

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney holds end-of-year briefing

Posted By on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 4:23 PM

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney speaks at Friday's press briefing.
  • CMPD Chief Kerr Putney speaks at Friday's press briefing.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney held the department’s annual end-of-year press briefing at Faith Memorial Baptist church in the Lakewood neighborhood in west Charlotte this morning. Putney discussed the newly released crime stats for 2017, as well as different programs that were launched throughout the year that he hopes to continue implementing throughout the community in 2018.

In 2017, overall crime in Charlotte decreased by approximately five percent, meaning roughly 3,000 fewer people were victims of crime compared to the year prior. However, homicide and rape were two of the only three index offenses that increased, crimes that Putney says are of the most concern to the department.

What increased:

- 85 homicides were reported compared to 68, a 25-percent increase
       - 60 homicides (71 percent) cleared by arrest or other means
       - 24 homicides (28 percent) related to domestic violence
- 306 rapes were reported compared to 273, a 12.1-percent increase
- 2,190 commercial burglaries were reported compared to 1,985, a 10.3-percent increase

What decreased:

- 2,017 robberies compared to 2,120, a 4.9-percent decrease
- 3,965 aggravated assaults compared to 4150, a 4.5-percent decrease
- 4,227 residential burglary compared to 4,755, a 11.1-percent decrease
- 2,623 vehicle thefts compared to 2,739, a 4.2-percent decrease
- 25,610 larcenies compared to 27,106, a 5.5-percent decrease
- 11,747 larcenies from auto compared to 12,179, a 3.5-percent decrease
- 199 arson cases compared to 229, a 13.1-percent decrease

The 25 percent jump in homicides was a topic of conversation throughout the year, which Putney felt the need to address at today’s briefing.

“Eighty-five senseless losses of life is bigger than the statistic would lead you to believe,” he said. “We’re talking about families that have been hurt, families that have been traumatized, so we don’t take that number lightly.”

He said the department will be working hard to reduce the number of homicides in 2018.

Putney believes the rape reports increased partly because of what’s happening nationally.

“It is becoming a part of who we are as a society to report this kind of thing, to hold people accountable and we applaud these sexual assault victims for their courage,” he said.

Putney pointed out that in 2017, approximately 90 percent of victims knew their perpetrator.

“It is an intimate relationship that we’re talking about here, which is difficult for us to do the work that we need to do to address some of these issues,” he said.

Putney said CMPD wants to provide resources that will hopefully stop violence before it happens. Within the next few years, the department hopes to play a pivotal role in opening a Family Justice Center, where multiple services for domestic violence victims can operate under one roof. Creative Loafing covered the details about the FJC in our recent series about domestic violence in Charlotte.

The briefing also gave some insight on other happenings within the department.

Last year, officer Rick Zoerb created the Emergency Needs Fund, which provides officers the resources to immediately help in emergency situations they come across in residents’ homes, such as turning someone’s power back on or buying a family groceries.

“I would go into homes and see situations that I wasn’t equipped to handle … Those emergencies were things like no running water, no electricity, no food in the fridge, no beds for kids to sleep on,” said Zoerb, explaining why he wanted to create the fund.

Zoerb reached out to businesses in the area and raised over $25,000 to put into the fund. He’s hoping to double the money this year.

Putney followed Zoerb’s success story by comparing it to the negative stereotypes about police and the effects it has had on the department, specifically mentioning trouble with recruiting. In response to those difficulties, CMPD has put in place an incentive program that attracts experienced officers to the city. Putney said their goal is to recruit 60 officers through the fiscal year, although at the moment, well past the halfway point, the department has only hired 25.

Other statistics released at the briefing:

- 198,000 people attended community engagement functions with CMPD, including community forums and Coffee with a Cop
- 1.3 million calls handled by 911 center
- 622,000 interactions between officers and community during their patrol
- 19,000 arrests made
- 1,800 stolen or otherwise illegal guns removed from the streets

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Listen Up: Slade Baird of Amigo Talks About Making 'Friends' on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 27

Posted By and on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 10:17 AM

In the lead-up to the release of Amigo's new album, And Friends, frontman Slade Baird came by the studio to discuss producing with Mitch Easter, the momentum of the Charlotte music scene and making a new addition to the band on keys.

Make sure to catch up with our past episodes on iTunes or Stitcher. We're also on Spotify now, so just type "Local Vibes" into the search bar and you're in.

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Women's March Returns to the Streets

Dump Trump, Take Two

Posted By on Sat, Jan 20, 2018 at 3:19 PM

Rev. Amantha Barbee speaks to the crowd at the Women's March in First Ward Park. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
  • Rev. Amantha Barbee speaks to the crowd at the Women's March in First Ward Park. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

On January 20, the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, thousands of people took to the streets of Charlotte — joined by countless others across the country — to protest the president's policies and stand up for women's rights and other intersectional issues during the second annual Women's March.

In the two hours leading up the march, which wound its way from First Ward Park to Romare Bearden Park, a diverse group of women took the stage to address the ever-growing crowd. Speakers included Charlotte City Council representatives LaWana Mayfield and Dimple Ajmera; N.C. Rep. Carla Cunningham; Rev. Amantha Barbee of Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church and MaryBe McMillan of the NC State AFL-CIO, among others.

In the crowd, marchers displayed their own frustration with creative signs. Creative Loafing was on hand to snap pictures of the speakers and some of our favorite signs [below]. Let us know if you saw any good ones that we missed.

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Listen Up: Rob Lind of The Sonics Tells 'Local Vibes' How His Band Invented Punk

Episode 26

Posted By and on Sat, Jan 20, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Before heading to eastern Europe for a five-week tour, proto-punk and garage-rock pioneer Rob Lind of The Sonics came by the studio to talk about making music with his friends as a naive teen in the mid-'60s, with no idea of how iconic his band would become.

Don't forget to catch up on our past episodes on iTunes or Stitcher. We're on Spotify now, too, so it's never been so easy to go local. That sounded very ad-like. Sorry. Just listen to the podcast.

[From left] Mark Kemp, Rob Lind and Ryan Pitkin.
  • [From left] Mark Kemp, Rob Lind and Ryan Pitkin.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Leading on Opportunity Council Names New Executive Director

Former orphan has experience and perspective on childhood issues

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 11:10 AM

It’s been a long road from an Indian orphanage to the Carolinas for Stephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter, but now that she’s here, she’s ready to join the fight against economic immobility and help disadvantaged children like she once was.

As a baby, Cooper-Lewter was left on the doorstep of Mother Teresa’s orphanage in India. Later, she was placed with an Indian foster family and soon arrived in the United States on an immigrant orphan visa through an international adoption.


Now 45, she has dedicated her life to change and will have a chance to help disadvantaged children in Charlotte as the new executive director of the Leading On Opportunity Council, formed in response to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force recommendation to improve economic mobility.

The initiative helps create opportunities for children by focusing on early childhood education, college and career readiness, family stability, social capital and segregation.

“My journey has guided my life purpose to ensure every child — regardless of income, race and zip code — has the same opportunities as yours and mine,” Cooper-Lewter stated in a press release announcing her new appointment earlier this week. “I have given my heart to this cause and to racial equity.”

Cooper-Lewter will begin in her new position on February 20. On her to-do list: develop a 100-day action plan, build a staff, secure an office location, listen to the community and meet as many people as possible.

After a nationwide search of over 100 candidates, the 45-year-old was chosen for her experience collaborating and building relationships with different communities. She has nearly 25 years of experience in social work, including serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia and most recently the Vice President of Initiatives and Public Policy for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina.

“We believe we are at a pivotal time in Charlotte’s history,” said James Ford and Andrea Smith, co-chairs of the Leading on Opportunity Council, in the release. “We need every facet of the community to understand that we have a collective responsibility to ensure every child has a chance to prosper no matter their starting point in life. That’s the goal of Leading on Opportunity. Stephanie has a passion for children, people on the margins, and a gift for uniting the community that we believe will help us accomplish our charge as a Council to inspire and connect the community to change outcomes.”

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Listen Up: Astrea Corp Gets Experimental on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 25

Posted By and on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 11:51 AM

Not many folks move to Charlotte with the sole intention of entering the music scene, but that's what Mike and Carly Astrea did about two and a half years ago, and they've since brought Will Gilreath on to the experimentalist trip-hop group Astrea Corp they formed in south Florida.

We talk to the trio about how they showed up on the local scene with dimebags of downloadables and have helped it grow since then.

As always, catch up with all our past episodes and subscribe for the future on iTunes or Stitcher.

[From left] Will Gilreath, Mike Astrea, Carly Astrea and Ryan Pitkin.
  • [From left] Will Gilreath, Mike Astrea, Carly Astrea and Ryan Pitkin.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Listen Up: Brio Perfects the Sound on 'Local Vibes'

Episode 24

Posted By and on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 9:30 AM

Releasing his debut album, LIGHTBLEU, has been a long road for Brio — from CLT to ATL and back again over four years. For episode 24, Mark and Ryan have him in right after the album's release to talk about the full process, and how moving away from his hometown and then coming home has played a role in his music and outlook.

Also, DJ Pauly Guwop drops in to share a little insight on the LIGHTBLEU process.

[From left] Mark Kemp, Brio and Ryan Pitkin.
  • [From left] Mark Kemp, Brio and Ryan Pitkin.

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