Homicides are up sharply in Mecklenburg County. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say there have been 11 so far this year, compared with three at this point last year. CMPD detailed what they're doing about violent crime in a press conference Wednesday.
Major Mike Smathers says it's not clear what's causing the increased homicides, although drugs play a role. He says CMPD is responding with an initiative called Operation Avalanche.
"We identified four areas in the city that were experiencing higher than normal rates of violent crime, and we have dedicated significant resources into these four areas with a singular focus of impacting and reducing violent crime," he says.
That means more officers in uniform and undercover, as well as more contact with residents, including field interviews and traffic stops. The four areas are:
-Central Avenue and Eastway Drive.
-The Plaza and Eastway Drive.
-Milton Road and Sharon Amity Road.
-The Sugar Creek/I-85 corridor.
"Utilizing crime analysis data, we're deploying resources during the days and times of recent incidents to maximize the impact that we can hopefully have there," Smathers says.
The operation began three weeks ago. Last week, he says violent crime in the focus areas was down 87 percent compared to a three-year average for that same week.
CMPD is planning to host weekly press conferences from now on, and Smathers' availability was the first one. Police say that change is about increasing transparency.