Both Charlotte and Mecklenburg County leaders are asking residents to help them stem the area's rising violent crime rate. That call was issued at a joint press conference today featuring CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney, CMS superintendent Clayton Wilcox, and Charlotte Community Relations Executive Director Willie Ratchford.
The police department has struggled to contain a rising number of homicides in Charlotte this year. The department says there's been 49 homicides in the city since January, many stemming from minor disputes.
Putney said solving the problem goes beyond police enforcement.
"I wish we could arrest our way out of it. We'd have done so already. That's not the case," Putney said.
Officials listed off dozens of city and county initiatives geared toward conflict resolution and mediation. But said in the end, Ratchford said, it comes down to a need for more support and buy-in from area residents.
"We should all understand that community safety is not solely the responsibility of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department," Ratchford said. "Community safety is the responsibility of the police department and all citizens — all residents of Charlotte-Mecklenburg working together to make sure that we all have a secure future."
Ratchford said "no one person or entity can do this alone."
"If we don't want Charlotte's vibrant future to be overshadowed by violence, we must act right here and right now," he said.
Speaking on WFAE's Charlotte Talks Wednesday, Mayor Vi Lyles echoed those sentiments, saying the rate of violence had been weighing heavily on her.
"The violence that's going on in this city right now is what's been keeping me up at night," she said.
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Lyles said 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," she 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."