CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - WFAE, Charlotte's home for NPR, hosted its Charlotte Talks Public Conversations to discuss the growing homicide rate in the Queen City.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney was on hand with a number of other guests. Charlotte has seen 49 homicides in 2017.
"It's a humanity issue," Putney said. "It's a parenting issue, it's a role model issue."
Putney said 80 percent of homicide victims and suspects CMPD sees are African-Americans.
Some believe the homicide rate is part of a larger, systemic issue, that has limited opportunities for minorities.
"And you're wondering why our community can't be lifted up?" activist Gemini Boyd said. It's because as black males, we have no figures, so at 10 and 12 years old they're leading each other now. And they don't know how to lead each other -- they're kids."
Chief Putney cited the force's diversion program, which gives kids who are first-time offenders a chance to clean their record.
"They're kids that you normally wouldn't be hiring because they had a brush with the law," Putney said. "They made a mistake, they're kids."
Judy Williams, with Mother's of Murdered Offspring, Damian Johnson, with No Grease Barber Shop and Charlotte City Council member Julie Eiselt were also on hand.