Greenville’s police chief addresses increase in homicides

Local

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Greenville police say they’re seeing a reduction in violent and property crimes in the city, but there is one category where numbers are up — homicides.

Chief Mark Holtzman says his officers are working to reduce gun violence, but he says there are other factors involved in some of the city’s murders and other violent deaths .

On average, Greenville sees about 7 or 8 homicides a year. 

Chief Holtzman says this year his department has handled 10 homicide investigations.

In 2020, many of these cases are tied to domestic violence.

“I can’t stress enough mental health services in our community, we’re seeing that come up and we’re leaning on them hard to help us out and they’re stepping up to the plate,” says Chief Holtzman. 

Greenville police have a new strategy for these crimes, using what’s called a co-responder model.

Trillium and Mobile Crisis Teams will head to crime scenes with officers.

“This has come about because for the past few years, especially, law enforcement has been put in a role where they are basically called out for any and every situation and it is taxing their resources,” says Keith Hamm with Integrated Family Services.

The mobile crisis team is a new kind of police back-up, handling aspects of situations most officers can’t.

Hamm explains, “24 hours a day 7 days a week a qualified mental health professional will come to your location at no charge to you and assist you with whatever crisis you’re going through.”

Chief Holtzman says the pandemic is making that kind of back-up more valuable.

He states, “This year has really been an unprecedented year, how many of these cases are going to be related in one way or another to the national pandemic of COVID we may never know, but i know that Greenville is not immune to that.”

Police and counselors hope this kind of help prevents tragedies.

Chief Holtzman says his offices are seeing another problem factor — guns stolen from vehicles people leave unlocked.

He says that can be prevented if people keep their cars locked, and their guns someplace safe.

For more information on Family Integrated Services and its Mobile Crisis team, click here. 

For Trillium’s resources you can click here.

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