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Politics

Charlotte City Council To Get Update On Community Safety

Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center
NICK DE LA CANAL / WFAE
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Charlotte's City Council members on Monday will get an update on community safety and learn more about an effort to better prepare law enforcement to help people with mental illnesses.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney and Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather are set to provide updates on both topics at Monday's City Council meeting. So far, 2019 has been a particularly violent year in Charlotte.

As of July 4, 60 homicides had been reported in the city. That's more than the entirety of 2018, when 58 homicides were reported. Several high-profile incidents have been reported in the last week alone, including homicides on Tuesday and Thursday, a double shooting at the Le Méridien hotel in uptown Friday and a Saturday gunfire exchange at an east Charlotte McDonald's that left four people injured.

The Crisis Intervention Team program, meanwhile, is a collaboration between law enforcement, mental health agencies, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Central Piedmont Community College and other community members to better prepare officers to respond to people having mental health crises.

The program involves training for police officers and other first responders to help them recognize signs of mental illness, learn verbal de-escalation skills and stay up to date on community resource information.

Following a fatal police shooting this spring, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said 47% of its patrol officers and sergeants had been through the program.

Violent crime overall is up 18.5% this year compared to 2018, according to quarterly crime statistics released last week.

Local leaders have acknowledged the spike in homicides and have appealed to the public to help them stem the rise in violent crime.

Mayor Vi Lyles said on WFAE's Charlotte Talks in May that she wanted to take a "three-pronged approach" to the problem that included studying the city's homicides from the last three years, reaching out directly to communities where violence has risen, and forming a citizen "action group" that communicates with other citizens affected by violence and recommends new initiatives.

"It's really about caring for each other," Lyles said, "And when we stop doing that, we have to remind ourselves, and go back, and figure out how to approach it differently so we can get that caring back."

The City Council is also expected to get an update from staff on recommendations for the Housing Trust Fund and vote on whether to approve a roughly $17.1 million contract to build a 1.5-mile section of the Cross Charlotte Trail from Brandywine Road to Tyvola Road.