Gun Reports in CMS Hit a 10 Year High

From The Charlotte Observer by Ann Doss Helms, February 22, 2018

As the country reels from the latest mass shooting at a school, a new state report reveals that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools intercepted 19 guns at school last year, far more than any other district in North Carolina.

It marks a 10-year high, in a year when the statewide total declined from 118 to 105. CMS accounts for about 10 percent of total enrollment but almost 20 percent of last year’s guns on school grounds.

The guns were found at schools scattered across the county, including three elementary schools and a selective middle school magnet. None resulted in shootings, and the perennial question is whether CMS has an unusual number of armed students or an especially effective detection system.

Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said Thursday he hopes it’s the latter. The district urges students to speak up if they know a classmate has a weapon, he said, and some firearms are intercepted before the student even enters the building. A gun counts toward the tally if it’s found on school ground.

“The important statistic for me, while we had 19 guns, we did not have a shooting,” Wilcox said.

Wake County, the only North Carolina district larger than CMS, found 13 guns in 2016-17, up from only one the previous year. New Hanover County, a much smaller district than Wake and CMS, had 12.

According to the 2016-17 school crime and violence report, Garinger, Mallard Creek and West Charlotte high schools each had three guns last year, while Rocky River High had two. Eight other schools reported a single gun: Ashley Park PreK-8 School, Crestdale Middle, Hopewell High, Huntingtowne Farms Elementary, Palisades Park Elementary, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, Randolph Middle and Winget Park Elementary.

That might come as news to students and families. Wilcox says CMS doesn’t notify families about guns unless there’s a threat to students.

CMS is reviewing its school safety systems, including physical protection and staff training, after a former student gunned down 17 students and faculty at a Florida high school on Feb. 14.

The presence of guns and violence in schools often reflect trends in the community. Last year saw a spike in homicides in Mecklenburg County, though overall violent crime decreased slightly. Police Chief Kerr Putney has cited the prevalence of illegal guns as one factor in the surge of killings, and the Violent Crime Task Force recently concluded an eight-month investigation with 45 arrests on gun and drug charges.

The largest number of firearms reported in CMS was 28 in 2006-07. The district saw a sharp drop starting in 2008, but the number have risen the last two years.

On Wednesday the Observer requested the tally of guns found at CMS schools so far this year, but the district has not yet provided that information.

KIPP Charlotte, a charter school in northeast Charlotte, reported two guns last year, the only North Carolina charter school to report any.

The tallies are part of the state’s annual report on crime and violence in public schools, which covers such incidents as possession of alcohol, drugs and weapons, assaults on students and staff and sexual offenses. It will be presented to the state Board of Education next week.

In CMS the total number of acts reported went down, from 1,371 to 1,198.

Published in: on February 28, 2018 at 9:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Police Officer Attacked at CATS Transit Center

From WCNC, February 17, 2018

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said a G4S police officer was punched repeatedly and knocked out during an altercation in uptown Friday night.

The incident happened around 6:00 p.m. near the transit center. The area of 4th St. near Trade and Davidson was closed for a time while the situation was under investigation.

CMPD said G4S Company Police Officer Jeffery Outen got into an altercation with Reginald Lewis Alexander, 49, who was loitering on the property. Investigators said Officer Outen had asked the man to leave multiple times, but he came back.

“When he tried to restrain him, it’s like he wasn’t having it,” said Thomas Smith, a witnessed to the assault.

Investigators said Alexander punched Officer Outen in the head several times, knocking him to the ground where he hit his head on the sidewalk. Police said the man kept beating Outen while he was unconscious.

Other G4S Police Officers arrived on scene and arrested the suspect. CMPD officers responded as well.

Officer Outen was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. He had multiple stitches, a broken nasal bone and a damaged orbital socket.

Alexander has been charged with assault inflicting serious injury on a law enforcement officer.

The brutal attack followed several cases of violence in uptown last year including a 17 year-old who was kidnapped, robbed and assaulted at the transit center over the summer. Within hours of that crime, three men were arrested for a brawl outside the Epicentre.

Published in: on February 28, 2018 at 9:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Violent Crime on the Rise at Uptown Charlotte Transit Center

From WCNC, February 20, 2018

Violent crime is on the rise near the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS).

On Monday afternoon, a man was in court accused of assaulting a private police officer on Friday near the transit center in uptown.

The Defenders found more than 200 crimes happened within half a mile of the transit center since the beginning of this year, according to crime mapping. That includes more than 50 assaults. Last summer, a 17-year-old was kidnapped, robbed and assaulted in the same area.

“We’re living in a violent world, so these things are happening more often,” said one woman walking near the transit center.

The Defenders are also looking into violent crimes happening inside the buses. Over the years, video obtained by NBC Charlotte shows a passenger swinging at the CATS bus driver.

Other videos show everything from a person slapped in the face to a person sprayed with mace in the face as well as reports of someone burning clothes.

NBC Charlotte previously reported there were 60 incidents on buses and trains in 2015, with that number jumping to 66 incidents in 2016.

The officer assaulted near the transit center Friday suffered a broken nasal bone, a damaged eye socket and he needed multiple stitches.

“In the line of duty, they put themselves at risk, so of course I feel for that officer. I hope they’re OK,” one woman told NBC Charlotte.

Published in: on February 28, 2018 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Homicides, Rapes Up In Charlotte; Overall, Crime Down In 2017

From by Gwendolyn Glenn, January 31, 2017

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney painted a mixed picture Wednesday of how his department did in terms of reducing crime in 2017. Putney says overall crime was down by more than 5 percent, but homicides were up 25 percent and rapes increased by 12 percent.

It’s been well reported that homicides were up significantly–from 68 to 85 last year. CMPD Chief Putney says 60 of those cases have been solved. Domestic violence incidents accounted for more than a quarter those homicides. Putney says his officers will be required to take more domestic violence training to better equip them to deal with and prevent these types of incidents. Reported cases of rape increased to 306.

“We believe that in no small part, the reason people are stepping up and reporting these sexual offenses is because of what is going on nationally,” Putney said. “It is becoming a part of who we are as a society to report this kind of thing to hold people accountable. We applaud these sexual assault victims for their courage.”

Putney says other violent crimes and auto thefts were down by nearly 4 percent last year and property crimes and burglaries decreased by about 5 percent.

“What we take solace in is the fact that with that crime reduction, 3,000 fewer people were victimized in 2017 than the year prior, 3,000 fewer families impacted by robbery, car break-ins and having their homes burglarized.” Putney said.

Putney credited some of the crime reductions to his officers getting to know residents better in the communities they patrol. He pointed to initiatives where officers are mentoring and tutoring youths and says it helps that nearly 200,000 residents attended CMPD community engagement functions last year.

Putney made his comments at Faith Memorial Baptist Church in the Lakewood community, just northwest of uptown. That’s where CMPD is expanding one of its new initiatives. Together with non-profit groups and government agencies, the department is trying to reduce crime by focusing on the needs of families. It kicked off last year in the Hidden Valley neighborhood and Putney wants to take it citywide.

“We know if we heal an individual and a family we’re preventing crime. Everybody knows that research demonstrates that if you have mental health issues, lack of education and employment opportunities, and drugs you’re likely to engage in criminal behavior and we want to break the cycle,” Putney said.

Published in: on February 1, 2018 at 9:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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