CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released its mid-year crime statistics, showing it ended the second quarter with a 4.3% increase in overall crime compared to last year.
Major Brian Foley, with CMPD Patrol North Division, said property crime is up 6% and violent crime is up 3%.
Foley added that violent crimes involving youth continue to be a top concern for the department.
On July 7, police said a 17-year-old was shot and killed near Charlotte’s Hidden Valley neighborhood on Sofley Road.
“That is the frustration level,” Foley said. “When we work hard, we work hard together, and then we have a youth that’s senselessly murdered in the community. That’s where we really get upset. That’s where I get upset. I’m responsible for this area, and so that really hits me hard in the heart.”
CMPD choose to hold its news conference Wednesday to announce the mid-year crime statistics at Faith CME Church, which is roughly a mile from the homicide scene on Sofley Road.
Foley called on the community to do something.
“Where is the community? Where are people marching in the street and saying, ‘We are tired of this.’ Where is it?” Foley said. “Because I don’t see it, and that has to be part of the conversation.”
Since the beginning of the year, CMPD said there have been 482 juvenile victims of firearms-related crimes, including murder. According to police, 118 youth have been involved as perpetrators of crimes with guns.
“We need active parents. CMPD needs the support, the participation, and the partnership of active parents to negate this youth violence,” Foley said. “It’s gotta happen, folks. You need to look at your kids’ phones. You need to know who they're beefin’ with. You need to know where they’re going to go fight.”
Foley also called on the state to re-examine its “Raise the Age” law.
This law was implemented in North Carolina in December 2019. It requires that 16 and 17-year-olds who commit crimes in North Carolina be initially charged as juveniles, instead of automatically facing a judge in the adult criminal justice system.
“The Raise the Age change has really changed and altered the way that police can engage and detain violent criminals,” Foley said. “And if you don’t think a 13, or 14, or 15, or 16-year-old kid can kill somebody, you’re wrong. They can, and they do.”
CMPD arrested a 16-year-old in May in connection to the April murder of Malik Boyd on Markland Drive in West Charlotte.
Foley said it has become more difficult to keep repeat youth violent offenders off the streets.
“When somebody does something like that, and the system has changed and prevents the police and the district attorney’s office from taking that individual and putting them somewhere where they’re no longer a danger to the public until their trial happens, that’s a huge problem,” Foley added.
Raise the Age was intended to keep 16 and 17-year-olds who commit nonviolent crimes from automatically being charged as adults.
“The purpose was really to take 16 and 17-year-olds and make sure that they could be served in the juvenile justice system so that they would not be facing adult charges automatically,” said William Lassiter, deputy secretary for the Department of Public Safety over Juvenile Justice, “to allow for them to get opportunities to get employment, to get them opportunities to still go to college and get financial aid, to give them hope that they have a future to be successful, but ultimately to reduce recidivism.”
Lassiter said officials are still studying if the law is keeping recidivism rates down.
“We’re still early in the implementation, so we’re still trying to get that data and look at it and see how those juveniles are interacting in the system once they’ve gone, stayed in the juvenile justice system versus the adult system,” Lassiter said.
Most violent offenders are being transferred to the adult system, Lassiter said, and a bond can then be set for a juvenile offender in adult court to release the juvenile from custody.
“I think it’s a misperception that the juvenile justice system or Raise the Age had something to do with that,” Lassiter said. “In fact, that’s how adults are handled if they were over the age of 18.”
According to the Department of Public Safety, bonds do not exist in the juvenile justice system. Pretrial secure custody is reserved for juveniles who pose a public safety risk or to ensure a juvenile who has a history of not showing up for court hearings comes to court.
Lassiter said he agreed with the police that more work needs to be done to keep firearms away from youth.
“There are too many guns in the hands of kids,” Lassiter added, “and if we truly want to change that dynamic, we need to look at adults.”