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CMPD Reflects On Crime In 2016 And Keith Scott Shooting

Michael Tomsic
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney provides data and analysis of crime in 2016.

CMPD reports a more than 10 percent increase in homicides and other violent crimes last year compared to the year before and to Mecklenburg County's five-year average.

Police Chief Kerr Putney says there's no question that many people will define last year based on the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, an African-American man.

On September 20, an African-American police officer shot and killed Scott as Scott ignored orders to drop a gun. That led to huge nightly protests that at times turned violent. The district attorney later ruled the officer was justified.

Putney put the shooting in context.  

"Our officers had about 600,000 encounters with the public during the course of the year in 2016," and only 12 of those resulted in an officer-involved shooting, he said. (Five of the shootings were fatal.) "That's .002 percent."

Putney said CMPD learned lessons from the Scott shooting. They include the power of social media and the importance of providing accurate information as quickly as possible.

He says CMPD continues working to build relationships throughout the community and to educate officers about their own implicit biases.

"I believe the vast majority of our people are doing things the right way," he said. "I have plenty of data to support that. But I'm not silly enough to believe that we get it right 100 percent of the time. If we mess up, let us know, so that we can hold our people accountable."

Putney said 41 public complaints about officers led to investigations last year. He did not give the results of those investigations.

He also detailed increases in homicides and other violent crimes. Last year, homicides rose 13 percent, and violent crime increased 10 percent. Compared to five-year averages, the rises were much steeper. Homicides were up roughly 30 percent, and violent crime was up 26 percent. 

City council last year approved funding for 63 more officers. Putney says the last 30 or so will be in place by June and that will help with crime. He said he'll ask council for more officers this year as the city continues growing.