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End-of-Year Report Shows Crime Up, Homicides Down in Charlotte

Charlotte homicides
A shooting at Romare Bearden Park on New Year’s Eve raised questions about public safety in Uptown. 

Leaders with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) held a press conference on Thursday to discuss the release of their annual end-of-year public safety report for 2023, which found that overall crime was up, violent crime had remained about the same, and the total number of homicides fell in 2023 as compared to 2022. 

According to CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings, the 14% increase in overall crime was driven in large part by a 17% increase in property crime — specifically a rise in vehicle break-ins and vehicle theft.

Despite that, Jennings said he was proud of the numbers regarding violent crime, stating that, since becoming chief in 2020, he has placed his focus on reducing and managing violent crime and has seen results every year — a 7% drop in 2021 and a 5% drop in 2022. 

“We wanted another reduction [in 2023] and unfortunately we didn’t get that,” Jennings said. “However, the fact that we have been down the last two years and that this year we haven’t seen a significant increase I think is a testament to the work that our men and women do every day.” 

The trend has also coincided with other non-law-enforcement efforts from city and county leaders, including the launch of a violence interruption team on the Beatties Ford Road corridor and the recent roll-out of new teams on West Boulevard and Nations Ford Road. The county also put together its own violence prevention plan in 2022.

“This isn’t just a law enforcement issue, it becomes a societal issue that needs community solutions including conflict resolution and better outlets for young people,” said Sgt. Dan Bignall. “We need to break the cycle.” 

CMPD recorded 95 homicides within its jurisdiction during 2023, the lowest number in years. Over the past four years, including 2023, the city has seen an average of 106 homicides annually. 

Queen City Nerve tracked 98 homicides in Charlotte in 2023, including four police killings, which are not usually counted as homicides in police department data. 

The map above shows the narratives behind 98 killings that Queen City Nerve tracked in Charlotte in 2023. Black markers signify deaths by gun violence, green markers signify killings that may be deemed justified, red markers signify stabbings, yellow markers signify murder by vehicle, purple markers signify deaths by trauma or unknown cause, and blue markers signify police killings.

At least 91 of the killings tracked by Queen City Nerve in 2023 were the result of gun violence. 

According to CMPD, shootings involving a juvenile suspect increased by 33% while shootings involving a juvenile victim increased by 18%.

“We’re finding out more and more that conflicts, especially with young people, are not being solved with words or even fists but rather the pull of a trigger,” said Maj. Michael Ford with CMPD’s Special Investigations Unit. “Weapons are finding their way into the wrong hands and being used to commit violent acts. The unfortunate reality is that those violent acts often involve our juvenile population.” 

CMPD leaders at Thursday’s press conference voiced their frustrations with the high recidivism rate among a small number of juveniles who are reoffending sometimes multiple times before they see a judge for their first offense. 

According to CMPD Northwest Patrol Major Ryan Butler, the top three juvenile offenders in Charlotte committed more than 120 offenses combined in 2023 alone. 

However, statistics from the department’s Youth Diversion Program show that juvenile offenders can see success when redirected from the punitive justice system. 

According to Thursday’s end-of-year report, of the 444 participants who last year went through CMPD’s Youth Diversion Program, which diverts first-time offenders from the criminal justice system and toward rehabilitation courses, 95% did not reoffend.

A shooting at Romare Bearden Park that left five people injured and a 19-year-old man arrested on New Year’s Eve raised concerns from residents and elected officials about public safety in Uptown, considering that over a dozen juveniles were arrested and multiple guns seized following a large brawl that broke out during a Fourth of July celebration there over the summer.

CMPD Maj. Brett Balamucki pointed that violent crime fell 3% in the Central division in 2023 despite a rise in visitors to the Uptown area throughout the year.

“For the most part, Uptown Charlotte is a safe environment,” insisted Jennings. “There are some quality-of-life things that we’re hoping to deal with, but also finding out how to deter people from coming to Uptown during special events for the mere fact of committing criminal acts, that’s a challenge for our department.”

View our past mapping of Charlotte homicides here

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