The Fayetteville Police Department headquarters, located in downtown Fayetteville. Ben Sessoms / Carolina Public Press

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Crime rates in Fayetteville are down a sixth consecutive year. Unfortunately, violent crimes — homicides and aggravated assaults — are up.

Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins presented the 2021 annual crime report to the City Council on Monday, giving numbers on the city’s overall crime decrease, particularly property crimes such as burglary, larceny and robbery, which were down 13.5% from 2020.

Since 2016, the property crime rate has decreased by more than 31%.

The overall crime rate was down more than 10%.

“Our 2020 numbers were very good, so we’re going against our own good numbers … with less people,” Hawkins said at the council meeting Monday.

The Fayetteville Police Department currently has 29 vacant full-time officer positions.

While overall crime rates are decreasing, homicides and aggravated assaults are up. Last year, 48 homicides and 1,144 aggravated assaults occurred in Fayetteville. That’s an increase from 32 and 1,125, respectively, in the year before.

Among property crimes, the only offense that was slightly up from 2020, less than 1%, was motor vehicle theft.

Both Hawkins and Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen implored residents to lock their cars while left unattended.

Fayetteville’s crime rates are among a national trend wherein property crimes are at a low and violent crimes are increasing, a phenomenon that manifested amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

That trend matches statewide figures, according to crime data from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation.

But the per-capita crime numbers in the Fayetteville area make that trend much more concerning. Even with the overall drop in Fayetteville crime, Cumberland County’s numbers are still higher than the state’s average.

According to crime statistics from 2020, the latest year available, the county’s overall crime rate was 4,200 per 100,000 people, with violent crimes at 940 per 100,000, according to the SBI.

That puts the county’s overall crime rate 150% higher than the statewide average despite the recent declines. Worse, violent crime in Cumberland County is 71% higher than the statewide per 100,000 rate.

Fayetteville makes up more than 60% of Cumberland’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Clarification: This article has been updated slightly to clarify that some of the data cited is for Cumberland County and other counties, rather than specifically for the city of Fayetteville and other cities.

Ben Sessoms

Ben Sessoms is a Carolina Public Press staff writer based in Fayetteville. Send an email to bsessoms@carolinapublicpress.org to contact him.