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Homicides jump in Charlotte despite overall decline in violent crime

police tape
TONY WEBSTER
/
FLICKR

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say reported crimes were up 3% last year, but the city saw a bigger jump in the most serious crimes — homicides.

There were 110 reported killings in Charlotte last year. That’s a 12% increase from 2021, when the city saw 98 homicides. Reviewing last year’s crime statistics on Thursday, CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said the number is unacceptable.

"The number is staggering. When you look at the amount of homicides, however, the only acceptable number for homicides is zero," said Jennings.

The oldest victim was 66 years old. The youngest was 2. Police officials said they charged 87 people with homicide in 2022, and 18 of those were juveniles. The youngest people charged were 14.


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Lt. Bryan Crum, of the homicide unit, said simple disagreements and fights continue to be the most common motive for killings in Charlotte.

"We continue to see the main driver of our violent crime and our homicides in Charlotte to be simple, seemingly insignificant misunderstandings or disagreements that quickly escalate into gunfire," said Crum.

Apart from homicides, police say violent crime fell 5% last year. Jennings also pointed to positive trends, such as the 3,000 guns officers seized, which was up 8%, and to a 7% increase in total arrests.

Property crimes such as theft rose 6% in Charlotte last year, and car thefts jumped almost 20%.

Jennings also said that courts need to set higher bond amounts to keep people charged with serious crimes off the streets before their trials — an issue the chief has raised before. Jennings said he continues talking with Mecklenburg District Attorney Spencer Merriweather, Chief District Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch and others about increasing bond amounts.

"We're not keeping our community safe by letting repeat violent offenders back on the street," said Jennings. "This is extremely frustrating."

Here are the total numbers of specific categories of crimes reported last year, and how it compares to 2021.

  • Homicides: 110, up from 98.
  • Violent crimes: 7,178, down from 7,589.
  • Rapes: 261 down from 338.
  • Residential burglaries: 1,996, down from 2,147.
  • Larceny from automobiles: 10,367, down from 10,510.
  • Armed robberies: 984, up from 956.
  • Commercial burglaries: 2,067 up from 1,603.
  • Vehicle thefts: 3,621, up from 3,020.
  • Property crimes: 32,335, up from 30,637.
  • Arsons: 149, up from 131.

This year, CMPD will focus on reducing violent crime, as well as hiring new officers to replace large numbers of those retiring. Jennings said a wave of officers hired in the early 1990s are going to retire over the next two years. And staffing has already been a challenge in the past few years, as CMPD copes with the same nationwide challenges around law enforcement after the 2020 George Floyd killing and protests.

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Ely Portillo has worked as a journalist in Charlotte for over a decade. Before joining WFAE, he worked at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Charlotte Observer.