A shortage of police officers and distrust of those who are working are two reasons that crime in Charlotte has been rising steadily this year, says Police Chief Kerr Putney, the Charlotte Observer reports. In the third quarter of 2015, crime was up nearly 11 percent compared with the first nine months of 2014. Violent crime was up 17.6 percent. Homicides are up nearly 50 percent. The population of Charlotte-Mecklenburg has increased by 8.2 percent since 2008, which was the last year the police force was expanded. There were 828,519 people in 2015, projected to grow to 932,839 by 2020.
Retired criminologist Paul Friday of the University of North Carolina Charlotte said an increase in police officers could help drive down crime, but only if officers are deployed in the right way. “It's not that we need (more officers) to kick butt and put people in jail, what we need them to do is help get the cooperation back from the community that may have been lost and deal with the root issues,” he said. Putney also cited killings by police in New York City, Ferguson, Mo., and in North Charleston, S.C. that have prompted a national conversation about whether officers are too quick to use deadly force, especially against minorities. “Right now we’re entering the post-Ferguson era,” Putney said. “There's an increased public scrutiny around everything we do.” The distrust can make people less likely to cooperate with police investigations, Friday said.