Crime went down overall in Charlotte in 2017, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police announced Wednesday.
Altogether, about 3,000 fewer people became crime victims during the year compared to 2016, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said. Violent crime went down 3.6 percent and property crime decreased by 5.3 percent. Residential burglaries showed particular improvement, falling about 11 percent.
“We know that it’s not earth-shattering,” Putney said. “We know that it’s not quite enough. But we’re satisfied to know that we’re moving in the right direction.”
But two violent offenses – murder and rape – increased substantially. The city had 25 percent more homicides and 12 percent more rapes reported compared to 2016.
Ninety percent of the 306 rape victims knew their attackers, Putney said, so the work the city is doing to reduce domestic violence overall is expected to help rape victims, too.
Putney said people may also be more comfortable reporting rape because sexual assault and harassment have been in the news lately.
“It is becoming a part of who we are as a society to report this kind of thing and hold people accountable, and we applaud these sexual assault victims for their courage,” he said.
Putney acknowledged that each homicide victim leaves behind a grieving group of family and friends, but he said the department is going to reduce crime long-term by investing in communities in 2018. Helping people get on their feet is a crime-prevention technique, Putney said.
The city is expanding its Community Empowerment Initiative, which aims to provide support like job training and mental healthcare to families in need, into the Lakewood neighborhood this spring. The program started in Hidden Valley in fall 2017.