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

click to enlarge 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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