Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police arrested more than 120 juvenile suspects who were carrying weapons in 2006– nearly double the number from 2005, reports WCNC-TV. “That's a troubling sign, I think for our community,” said Police Chief Darrel Stephens. Stephens said juvenile crime is a growing problem nationwide. He said a rise in the population of teenagers in Mecklenburg County could explain at least part of the local increase.
The statistics were released hours after detectives arrested a boy, 14, for murder. “It's a tragedy that we have allowed a 14-year-old, or a 15-year-old or a 16-year-old, or a 17-year-old to get into that position when we've got the kind of country and the kid of resources that we've got,” said Stephens. He urged more after-school programs and better truancy enforcement. He said police see “the highest crime time (between) three to four o'clock in the afternoon and that's largely because we have a lot of kids that have no supervision.” City leaders maintain overcrowded jails and an overwhelmed court system is allowing repeat offenders to commit crimes with little or no punishment. “The system is broken and it must be fixed,” said Mayor Pat McCrory.