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A skyline that sprouts new buildings at a dizzying pace. Neighborhoods dotted with new breweries and renovated mills. Thousands of new apartments springing up beside light rail lines. The signs of Charlotte’s booming prosperity are everywhere. But that prosperity isn’t spread evenly. And from Charlotte’s “corridors of opportunity,” it can seem a long way off, more like a distant promise than the city’s reality.

'Violence interrupters' and the impact on west Charlotte neighborhoods

Sarah Delia

The west Charlotte neighborhoods where the city and county have deployed a new
program that uses “violence interrupters” are seeing lower rates of one type of
violent crime.

The Alternatives to Violence team uses trained community members to make
connections and address community problems without involving the police. The
team has been operating in the neighborhoods around Beatties Ford Road and
LaSalle Street since late 2021.

Charlotte City Council received an update on the program Monday night.

Federico Rios, with Charlotte’s Housing and Neighborhood Services, said the
Beatties Ford Road site has had “a statistically significant lower rate of homicides
committed with a firearm” compared to neighborhoods with similar demographics.

“That is huge for a site that is only one year into this work,” Rios said.

According to Rios, there was not a statistical difference compared to neighborhoods with similar demographics when it came to other types of violent
crime — and some hot spots appeared in areas nearby that hadn’t seen much crime before.

Rios stressed Cure Violence Global, the model the program is based on, cautions
against reading too much into first-year results.

The first part of a three-year evaluation of Alternatives to Violence by UNC
Charlotte researchers is expected to be released in the next few weeks.

The plan is to expand the program to two other locations with high violent-crime
rates by August. The focus areas are around Nations Ford and Arrowood roads,
and a section that includes Southside Homes and the West Boulevard/Remount
Road area.

Alternatives to Violence works to reduce crime by building relationships with
community members. For that reason, Rios said, it’s not well-suited for all high-crime areas. For example, he said, the area around Interstate 85 and West Sugar Creek Road has a lot of transactional crime and requires a different strategy.

The expansion is funded by a $2 million federal appropriation.

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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.