CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Rodney Monroe said Wednesday that the city’s overall crime rate rose by 2.8 percent in 2012 fueled, in part, by an increase in robberies and aggravated assaults.
The department recorded 1,798 robberies during the past year, an increase from 1,612 in 2011.
In addition, there were 3,165 aggravated assault cases, compared to 2,901 a year earlier.
But the city saw fewer homicides and a 9.1 decrease in burglaries last year, according to statistics released Wednesday.
The crime statistics were unveiled at a ceremony held at CMPD’s Freedom Division, which saw its overall crime rate go down by 3.5 percent. Police said that was the largest decline among CMPD’s 13 divisions.
The Freedom Division covers 46.1 square miles and serves a portion of west Charlotte, including the Freedom Drive corridor and a number of older neighborhoods in the area.
Capt. Gregg Collins said the division and west side of town has “historically been seen as more violent.” But he said it was nice to see the year-end stats. “The amount of violence has completely changed,” Collins said in an earlier interview.
Collins attributes part of the division’s success to an intense focus on crime prevention and specialized units that watch crime patterns and histories for certain locations and people. Over the past couple of years, the Freedom Division has created special burglar apprehension and domestic violence teams that target those crimes, Collins said.
As a result of the former, the division has seen the number of burglaries fall from a high of 802 in 2008 to 527 in 2012, Collins said.
Partnerships with community groups and residents have also helped make neighborhoods within the division safer, police said.
Hannah Clinton, a resident of the Todd Park neighborhood along Toddville Road in Freedom Division, began working with CMPD in the 1990s when she first joined the Todd Park Neighborhood Association. Then, she said, the neighborhood was riddled with crime, including street-level drug deals and home invasions. Now, through community-police cooperation, Todd Park is a decent place to live, Clinton said.
“I feel they have done an excellent job … they took it on as their own neighborhood,” said Clinton, who was recognized at Wednesday’s ceremony as an important community leader within the Freedom Division.
In 2013, Chief Monroe said the department will focus on enhancing a 24-hour monitoring center for surveillance cameras the department got during the DNC, as well as work with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office and judges to focus on repeat offenders.
He identified the habitual offenders who are out of jail and back on the streets as one of the department’s biggest challenges.
“If people do not believe that there is a penalty for committing crimes in our community, they will only continue to do such,” Monroe said.