Involved in Crime
The June issue featured part one of our four-part series, Charlotte’s Crime Problem, in which we chronicled the blame game taking place between top officials in addressing crime in this city. The issue also prepped you for the season with “21 Ways to Simplify Your Summer” and a story that showcased a Cuban-inspired dinner party.
Thank you so much for printing Melissa Hankins’s article, “Charlotte Has a Problem With Crime.” Last week, I became a victim of a felony for the second time in six months. I was held at gunpoint in my south Charlotte apartment complex at 8:30 in the morning.
Charlotte has a serious crime problem and, trust me, it is not confined to certain neighborhoods. It seems as though our public officials are more concerned with building a light-rail system and a baseball stadium downtown rather than the safety of the citizens of this gorgeous city. Why in the world would we want to attract more people here without getting our crime under control? Why would we want to give criminals a quicker exit on the light-rail without first considering the danger we currently live in? Your magazine continually impresses me. Thank you for shedding light on what so many already know but nothing is being done about.
I have taken great interest in reading the first installment of your four-part series on crime. The article was very well written and offered many sides of a very troubling issue.
I worked with Chief Darrel Stephens when he was director of the Police Executive Research Forum. He takes a very scholarly and cerebral approach to his position. One council member believes the chief is all brains and not scary enough. He wants a firebrand, a fist pounder. I’ll take brains anytime if I’m given a choice. Too often the firebrands and fist pounders resort to knee-jerk solutions.
The chief is correct when he stated that individuals must take steps to protect their neighborhoods and avoid becoming a victim. Keeping a neighborhood safe is hard work, and often people don’t have time so they delegate this job to the police.
I noted the references in your story to the political debate and finger pointing by politicians, which is typical. We have a very similar condition in Nebraska where the interests of the metropolitan areas of Omaha and Lincoln are often pitted against rural interests. One thing politicians must understand is that the crime problems in Charlotte will migrate into the rural areas. It would be beneficial if the rural politicians joined to help solve and contain Charlotte’s problems to keep them from expanding to the countryside.
I will be interested in reading the next installment of this very important series.
Lieutenant Terry R. Campbell, retired
After reading the article about the crime problem in Charlotte, one would think the solution to this problem is throwing resources, i.e. people, at the problem by infusing the criminal justice system with cash. However, most sociological studies around crime and the justice system have shown that the justice system itself rarely plays a role in the prevention of crime on a large scale. The only thing that has been consistently tied to crime is poverty, and addressing the poverty situation is much more likely to result in positive outcomes that can be sustained as the city continues to grow. Putting more cops on the street is not a deterrent to violent crime, just as the death penalty is not a deterrent for murder.
Furthermore, your lame attempt at using comparative data is misleading to readers. Cherry-picking two cities—Austin and San Jose—that fit with a preconceived theme for the article is not exactly responsible research. I pulled 2005 data directly from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, and you can see that Charlotte is very near the middle of U.S. cities with populations between 550,000 and 911,000, where San Jose is. The median size and average size of these peers are very close to Charlotte’s population. Using a data set of this size and scope would at least be a little more responsible.
Editor’s note: On the FBI stats table, Charlotte’s population is listed as 677,122. Charlotte had fewer than the median number of homicides in 2005, more rapes, more vehicle thefts, and many more robberies and burglaries. See all the numbers on our crime blog .
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