Charlotte Adopts A Public Health Approach To Reducing Violent Crime
Published on September 08, 2020
In 2019, more than 100 homicides occurred in Charlotte — an 80 percent increase over the previous year and the city's highest number of homicides since the early 1990s — and hospital emergency departments treated more than 4,000 Mecklenburg County residents for assault-related injuries.
In response to the increase in violence and a renewed call from the community for police reform and racial justice, the city has adopted a new public health approach to prevent violent crime. This approach emphasizes the use of data and support from several sectors including health, education, social services, private industries and community members.
A component of the strategy is a new tool, the Community Violence Data Dashboard, that will help the city and its partners better understand violent crime. The dashboard displays violent crime data by type (ex. homicides, youth violence, intimate partner violence, etc.) and identifies locations by neighborhood or Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department's (CMPD) identified priority areas. The dashboard is also linked to the Quality of Life Explorer, to learn more about social determinants of health indicators such as poverty, education, employment and other factors that could influence violence.
"Presenting the data this way begins to lay the foundation for working with our partners to start the work to reduce violent crime in our community," said Assistant City Manager Angela Charles. "Having a better understanding of the contributing factors will help us develop more effective intervention strategies to de-escalate tensions that could lead to violence."
Data displayed on the dashboard can be used to:
- Monitor violence-related behaviors, injuries and deaths
- Research and report on the factors that put people at risk or protect them from violence
- Help partners plan, implement and evaluate violence prevention efforts
- Promote the adoption and dissemination of violence prevention strategies
The dashboard includes statistics from prior years dating back to 2015, and the city will add new data monthly. The city is also working with several partners including Mecklenburg County Public Health, Community Support Services, Criminal Justice Services, Atrium Health, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Johnson C. Smith University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to add data to the dashboard over time.
View the dashboard in a separate window.
This dashboard and the supporting data are important pieces of the larger Violence Reduction Framework, the city's playbook to address violent crime collaboratively. The new framework will complement existing community-led efforts and support the work of Mecklenburg County and other partners.
Violence Reduction Framework
Founded upon five pillars, the framework can be used by residents, staff, community leaders and elected officials to help reduce and prevent violent crime in Charlotte.
Local elected governing bodies will develop relationships to share resources and improve service delivery. Over time, these partnerships will help create a community-wide comprehensive violence reduction strategy.
Community Collaboration in Priority Areas
Aligning city and Mecklenburg County resources will increase community impact and reduce one-off and duplicative efforts. Work in this pillar will focus on areas In Charlotte where violent crime is prevalent. These areas are displayed on the dashboard as priority areas which include Beatties Ford Road and LaSalle Street; Central Avenue and North Sharon Amity Road; Nations Ford Road and Arrowood Road; and Sugar Creek Road and Interstate 85.
The strategy recommends the creation of a violence interruption program. The program will employ and train Charlotteans with ties to specific neighborhoods to de-escalate situations before they turn violent. Violence interruption, a model used in several benchmark cities including New York City, focuses on interrupting violence before it begins; connecting individuals who present the highest risk for committing or becoming victims of violent crime to resources, services and opportunities; and changing community ideas around the normalization of violence.
The city is partnering with Cure Violence to begin that effort, and working with partners on a hospital-based violence intervention to engage violence victims in the hospital, during their recovery to receive assessment, counseling and social support in order to reduce recidivism.
Invest in Community-Led Efforts
The city and its partners will provide resources and training to Charlotteans and local organizations to prevent violence, promote racial equity, and build resilient neighborhoods.
Use Data and Evidence
By sharing data and information among departments, agencies and community partners will be better equipped to inform policy and program development and support comprehensive program evaluation.
Over time the framework will be used to direct and guide policies, practices and programs.
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