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CMPD: Crime dropped nearly 6% in 2013

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

Crime dropped nearly 6 percent in 2013 compared with the year before, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police announced Wednesday, although the department saw an 11.5 percent increase in the number of homicides and a slight uptick in robberies.

Police Chief Rodney Monroe said new technology from the Democratic National Convention and a record number of tips to the Crime Stoppers hotline helped bring crime down.

Violent crime dropped 3 percent in 2012 when compared with the previous year, Monroe said. Property crime was down 6 percent.

The department announced its yearly crime statistics at the headquarters of the Hickory Grove Division, which had one of the largest totals of homicides last year, but experienced a 14 percent reduction in crime, leading all 13 police divisions.

Monroe said the crime drop means about 2,100 fewer victims than in 2012. Over the last six years, he said, the city has seen a 34 percent drop in crime, resulting in an estimated 18,000 fewer victims.

He credited partnerships with community members and groups, but he also lauded thousands of anonymous people who called in tips about crimes. Monroe said more than 2,500 people called in to the Crime Stoppers tip line last year, a record in the program’s 32-year history. The previous high was 2,100 tips.

“We’ve invested in Crime Stoppers,” Monroe said. “We’ve encouraged citizens to use Crime Stoppers as their means of reporting to us, and they know their information is going to be acted upon.”

The department has increased the maximum amount a person can receive if a tip leads to an arrest from $3,000 to $5,000. It’s also increased the ways people can send in tips, including text messages and a mobile app, and assigned an officer to boost public awareness of the program.

The tips helped police close 449 cases and make nearly 300 arrests, Monroe said. Thirty-five homicide cases have been closed by arrest or other means as a result of Crime Stoppers tips in the past five years. In the five years before that, nine were cleared.

Police have long contended that a small percentage of people are responsible for most crime, and that taking those criminals off the street has a large impact on crime numbers.

Monroe said the department had invested nearly $15 million in technology that has gone toward crime-fighting efforts. The department last year unveiled a real-time crime center, which the chief said is playing a growing role in investigating crime.

The department has also moved electronic surveillance networks to high-crime areas. After the DNC, police said, more than 650 cameras were connected with a wireless network across the city.

But the cameras have been redeployed to areas such as the intersection of Farm Pond Lane and Albemarle Road, a crime hotspot for years. Police have also placed ShotSpotter in some high-crime areas. The network of microphones quickly notifies police when a gun is fired.

Among the crime statistics reported Wednesday:

• CMPD investigated 58 homicides in 2013, up from 52 in 2012, an increase of 11.5 percent.

• Burglaries overall were down 17 percent.

• Larcenies from auto, the most frequently reported crime, were down 6 percent.

• Vehicle thefts dropped 13.2 percent.

• Robberies increased 0.4 percent.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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