CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - The number of illegal guns seized by police in Charlotte are up and so are homicides.
"It should disturb everybody," said Judy Williams, who co-founded Mothers of Murdered Offspring.
It's been 26 years since 20-year-old Shawna Hawk was murdered by a serial killer. Williams, her godmother, says the pain never goes away.
"It's still very hard. Especially for her murder," said Williams. "We were at her grave Sunday. It was very hard. You'd think she just passed away."
So far this year, there have been 25 homicides in Charlotte, according to CMPD. That is up from six, this time last year and 15 in 2017.
Of the homicides so far this year, 23 involved guns and 16 cases have been cleared, according to CMPD. Three of the cases were domestic, five drug related, tw robbery related and nine invovled an argument between known acquaintances.
While the number of homicides are on the rise, so too are the number of guns seized by police. Year to date, cops have taken 326 illegal guns off the street compared to 294 firearms this time last year.
"It symbolizes a life saved," said Williams. "Because that gun could have taken somebody's life."
Police are now increasing the number of officers in high-crime areas, CMPD officials said, and taking other measures to reduce violence.
"Despite monumental efforts, it is challenging for law enforcement alone to predict and prevent this type of activity," said CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney. "CMPD will continue to prioritize community safety by identifying additional strategeis, partnerships and opportuities to prevent violence crime."
For Williams, fighting to save lives and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, is her way of keeping Shawna's memory alive.
"I applaud their efforts. I think it's wonderful," said Williams. "But we gotta do is make sure we're keeping them [guns] out of the hands of the people who shouldn't have them in the first place."
Sadly, most of the violent activity that we have experienced in our community has involved victims and suspects who are known acquaintances engaged in high risk behavior or others who were involved in personal relationships that turned violent. Despite monumental efforts, it is challenging for law enforcement alone to predict and prevent this type of activity Public safety requires a shared effort between police, community members and our partners.
It requires all of us to look after each other and the greater community. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is committe dto preventing and fighting violent crime. The department has:
- Recently increased the number of Crime Reduction Unit officers assigned to specific areas that have experienced an increase in violence.
- Implemented a process where Crime Anaylsts and Lieutenants review shooting incidents daily and assign follow-up tasks for officers in an effort to prevent retaliatory violence.
- Coordinated a saturation operation that increases police presence by deployin officers on bicycles, motorcycles, dirt bikes and patrol cars in focus areas.
- Our Priority Offender Stratgey Team (POST) identifies the most violent repeat offenders to ensure that any case against them is given priority and in collaboration with the federal or state prosecutors moves through the criminal justice system with the intention of protecting our commnity.
- In 2018, we assisted with more than 100 federal cases, most involving violent offenders who victimized members of our community.
- Broadened the number of certified CMPD Crisis Intervention Team officers.
- Partnered with mental health clinicians through our Community Policing Crisis Response Team (CPCRT). The team has a tentative start date of May 1st.
- Taken a leadership role in the planning and coordinating phase of developing a Family Justice Center (FJC) to reduce domestic violence incidents.
- DOmestic Violence Detectives continue to engage and educate the community about resources available to reduce victimiation.
- Engaged in commnity events that focus on conflict resolution education with the city's Community Relations Committee.
The CMPD will continue to prioritize community safety by identifying additional strategies, partnerships and opportunities to prevent violent crime. I am personally asking for the community to assist us in this endeavor. Together we will make our community a safe one.