January 5, 2021: Study ranks Asheville in top 10% of most violent cities in America https://wlos.com/news/local/study-ranks-asheville-in-top-10-of-most-violent-cities-in-america
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Asheville had an increase in violent crimes last year.
“We’re up,” Asheville Police Deputy Chief Mike Yelton said of the city's violent crime rate. "Crime is up nationwide, but particularly in the city of Asheville. For a city our size, we’re not within the scale we should be.”
A study by 24/7 Wall St., an independent financial news and opinion website that publishes daily articles on a range of topics, reported Asheville was in the top 10% of most violent cities in the U.S. after reviewing FBI crime data for 4,548 cities with more than 5,000 people in 2019.
The violent crime rate continued to climb in 2020, when 10 people were killed, four more than in 2019. Of those 10, eight were African-American -- seven men and one juvenile.
“Numerous areas of the city where we do see higher rates of poverty, we do see that elevated crime,” Yelton said.
He said said he didn’t know if there were trends in the where the 10 killings occurred.
In 2020, APD reported:
- 45 people were shot
- 57 were stabbed
- 652 made emergency calls for shootings
Of the 45 people shot, 39 were men and 37 of those were African-American men. Of those shot, 46% were between the ages of 16-25.
Yelton said he didn’t know if drug or gang activity contributed to the climbing numbers. But, he pointed to the ongoing conversation city officials have been having about creating programs to relieve police of emergency calls for crises involving overdoses, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness.
Other cities have begun creating teams that will respond to those calls instead of dispatching police. Yelton said he didn't know whether those teams had impacted any city's violent crime rate.
“If there is a city out there that has, we want to know," Yelton said.
Asheville isn’t alone in facing challenges in crime fighting. The issues and discussions by city leaders remain open as staff look to other police departments and municipalities that may have already begun initiatives that APD and the city can evaluate.