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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Domestic Violence Reports Rise With Virus-Related Disruptions

CMPD Deputy Chief Gerald Smith delivered an update on crime over the past month.
CMPD video
CMPD Deputy Chief Gerald Smith delivered an update on crime over the past month.

Domestic violence reports are on the rise in Charlotte, as stay-at-home orders and other stresses related to the COVID-19 outbreak bring turmoil to people's lives. 

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department said domestic violence complaints were up 18% in March. That's an increase of 517 cases compared with March 2019. Advocates for domestic violence victims say they've also gotten more calls for help, especially after schools closed and a county stay-at-home order took effect.  

Karen Parker, CEO of Safe Alliance
Credit Safe Alliance
Karen Parker, CEO of Safe Alliance

The demand is unprecedented, said Karen Parker of Safe Alliance, which operates a shelter and other domestic violence services. 

"We really haven't seen anything like this," she said. "And we also know that if people are in homes where abuse is happening, that it's likely to get worse when they are having to shelter in place."

Parker said people also have lost jobs and connections to resources. 

"They might not have the income that they need to be able to escape an abusive relationship," Parker added. "And so, a lot of those natural supports that people typically have in place are not in place right now."

The increase in domestic violence cases comes as Safe Alliance has cut the number of beds in its shelter from 120 to about 70, to provide distancing amid the virus outbreak. The agency is using an emergency grant from the COVID-19 Response Fund to move shelter residents to hotels, and to house additional survivors if needed. 

Meanwhile, Safe Alliance's abuse hotline remains open 24 hours a day. It's 980-771-HOPE (4673).  Help is also available at a national website, thehotline.org.  

More Shootings Into Homes, Too

During a press conference Wednesday, CMPD also reported an 80% increase in shootings into homes, about 60 more incidents than a year ago.   

That's concerning, said Deputy Chief Gerald Smith. "Especially with this shelter-in-place order, the possibility of something tragic, if not deadly, occurring is there." 

CMPD also reported that no officers have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Officials said officers have gloves, aprons, masks and goggles if they need them. 

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.