Charlotte officials talk two-part plan with mediators in the community and in hospitals.
With Charlotte on track to match or exceed the city’s record number of homicides last year, city council members in NC’s largest city have devised a two-part plan for curbing violence.
Officials say the programs would hinge on community leaders intended to stop crime before it begins in the city’s “hotspots,” including neighborhoods on Beatties Ford Road, Lasalle Street, and West Sugar Creek Road near I-85.
The second component, WCNC reported, would be in hospitals, where victims of violence would be engaged during their recovery. Through counseling and other social services, they would be dissuaded from retaliation against their attackers.
A city-led “Violent Crime Interruptor Coalition” would hire community members and train them in the two programs. Community workers would be trained to de-escalate potentially violent situations through conflict mediation, case management and mentoring.
“The concept here is to get the community engagement, to understand the needs before we just start deploying funds,” said City Manager Marcus Jones. “We believe that by having a higher concentration in these areas [it] will give us a quicker benefit.”
The program would begin this fall, officials reportedly said in a virtual City Council meeting Monday.
The discussion began after a 52-year-old man, Jessie James Hurley, was shot dead Monday morning in an argument in east Charlotte.
The case would bring the city’s homicides to 55 in the first part of 2020, exactly the same number at this same last year, when the city set new records for homicides with a total of 108 in 2019. By comparison, there were only 26 homicides reported at this time in July 2018.
Violence is not new to the area near East W.T. Harris Boulevard and Lawyers Road where Hurley was killed, WBTV reported. According to Charlotte police crime mapping, there were more than 130 incidents within a mile of the area in the past month.
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In January, Charlotte police identified four crime hot spots in the Queen City. The priority areas included intersections at West Sugar Creek Road and Interstate 85, Nations Ford Road and Arrowood Road, and Central Avenue and Sharon Amity Road.
The fourth hotspot is at Beatties Ford Road and Lasalle Street, the scene of a mass shooting during a block party on June 20 that left four people dead and several others injured by gunfire or struck by vehicles during the mayhem. Charlotte police reported that 181 rounds were fired during the deadly shooting.
Council member Malcolm Graham said he was concerned that police are not presently doing enough in high crime areas. He produced several pages of call logs for CMPD service at a strip mall on Beatties Ford Road where Terreon Geter, a 14-year-old boy, was shot and killed on June 30.
“When does it become a public nuisance?” Graham asked about the high volume of calls.
Council Members also disagreed on the focus of the task before them. Was it curbing violence or improving policing?
“There’s an urgency here because we have a violent crime issue in this city,” Council Member Larken Egleston said.
“No, a policing problem,” Councilman Braxton Winston countered.
Improving policing was addressed by the Safe Communities Committee. The committee presented a timeline that included a national panel scheduled for July, which would review police-community engagement, and police youth programs. August will be set aside for reviews of police policies, including CMPD’s recruitment, training, and rules of conduct, the committee said.