Viewpoint

Mayor: Charlotte is addressing spike in murders

Police investigate a double homicide earlier this month in east Charlotte.
Police investigate a double homicide earlier this month in east Charlotte. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

The author is mayor of Charlotte:

The spike in homicides this year in Charlotte is unsettling and unacceptable, but most of all it is heartbreaking to the friends and families who are suffering the loss of a loved one.

I applaud CMPD for taking concrete steps to address crime. This Friday, Charlotte swore in 28 new officers, part of the 125 new police officers the City Council and I worked to fund last year. These officers were hired to better reflect the neighborhoods they will serve as our police are committed to building personal relationships in all corners of our city. We are grateful for our community partners who know their local patrol officers and work with them on a daily basis in our neighborhoods to both prevent and solve crimes.

In addition to community policing, Chief Kerr Putney and his officers are focusing resources on specific neighborhoods to reduce violent crime. In January, CMPD launched Operation Avalanche, which has resulted in an overall decrease in violent crime of 84 percent in those neighborhoods. Of the 27 recent homicides, CMPD has been working hard to bring these violent criminals to justice, and 19 of these cases have been solved, including the double homicide that occurred last weekend.

Despite these successes, in the overwhelming majority of recent homicides, the victims knew their attackers, and unfortunately that type of crime is among the most difficult for law enforcement to prevent. That is why our investments in community programs and partnerships are so important in our work to reduce violence.

The recent work of the Opportunity Task Force has put in place a framework for action. I call on our business and philanthropic community to invest more deeply in our children and in the educational and family development programs we know are critical to the future prosperity and safety of our city. Government cannot do it alone; we must all give back to the city that has given so much to us.

Police respond most frequently to domestic violence calls, and domestic violence all too often leads to worse crimes. I have long been committed to preventing domestic violence and providing survivors and their families with the resources to escape these criminal environments. I will continue to partner with the community, our faith leaders, Mecklenburg County, our non-profits like Safe Alliance and others to reduce domestic violence and assault between family members and intimate partners.

This month is Child Abuse Awareness Month as well as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and it is important for us as a community to know the signs of abuse and domestic violence, and to know the resources we can point our friends and family to if they are in need. This knowledge has the power to save lives. I urge you to recognize the signs of domestic violence and abuse and report it to 911.

While we are committed to addressing the systemic and structural causes of violent crime, I want it to be clear to everyone in our community: If you commit a violent crime in the City of Charlotte, you will be brought to justice.

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