Crime declines for 2nd straight month

Police announced a second straight month of declining crime Tuesday, and Chief Rodney Monroe says Charlotte appears on track this year to record a crime count equal to or lower than last year.

Police released data for August and said initial September numbers show more positive results from changes the department made this summer.

Starting in early September, Monroe disbanded some specialty units and moved about 90 officers to patrol divisions. But even before that, he required officers to begin concentrating on crime-fighting priorities in smaller areas.

Those changes, says Deputy Chief Kerr Putney, are increasing police visibility, which prevents crimes. Criminologists, however, say it's hard to draw conclusions from just a few months of crime data.

Stats through August show violent crime up 1.4 percent compared to the first eight months of 2007. Property crime for the same period was up 0.9 percent.

A 36 percent decline in thefts from automobiles through August – one of the largest crime categories – helped reduce the year-to-date crime tally.

Other stats:

Home burglaries through August increased 10 percent and business burglaries dropped 24 percent.

Aggravated assaults through August jumped 4.9 percent, while robberies dropped 2.8 percent.

Officers have investigated 61 homicides as of Tuesday, compared with 51 through the same period last year.