The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on Thursday introduced its summer initiative in which it plans to flood some of the city’s high-crime areas with extra officers.
The program combats the annual rise in violent crime during the summer months, when school is out and people spend more time hanging out in the warmer weather. It also comes after a 16.7 percent increase in violent crime was reported in March, according to statistics from the department.
“It’s not as though we wait until summer to focus or target specific crime types or groups, but I would say that as violent crime increases in the summertime, we can move resources in more of a real-time manner in order to make that happen,” CMPD Lt. Brian Sanders said at a press conference Thursday.
The department has been collecting data on where violent crimes happen and shifting more officers to those areas. The program started in May. CMPD launched a similar 10-week initiative in the summer of 2014, during which police saw 21 percent fewer gun crimes than the previous summer, according to police statistics.
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“We’ve used the violent crime data and we’ve deployed a number of officers in those areas in order to combat the violent crime that has taken place,” Sanders said. “Part of this strategy is to control our investigative resources and try to generate a larger presence in some of these areas.”
Sanders said the violent crime rate is down 15 percent in the targeted areas, which include the area near West Sugar Creek Road and Interstate 85 as well as the Beatties Ford Road and Camp Green Street corridors.
Since the program began, CMPD officers have made 118 arrests and have seized more than 13 illegally possessed guns.
“Although some of the residents out there frequent our gas stations, restaurants and hotels and are there for business, there is a contingent of people who commit violent crimes and illegal activities,” Sanders said.
The initiative also involves investigating why people commit violent crimes, Sanders said. He said the department has seen an increase in acts of violence related to drug activity and arguments.
“It’s just a matter of trying to understand why they even commit that violent crime in the first place,” he said.
Rachel Herzog: 704-358-5358; @rachel_herzog