Within the span of 24 hours, each of the Triad’s cities was hit by gun violence, which resulted left three people seriously injured and two dead.

In Greensboro, two men, 33-year-old Mohsin Malik Hamid and 28-year-old Devonte Bernard Johnson, were killed when a shooting happened at Culture Lounge off of Spring Garden Street around 1:20 a.m. on Friday morning. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene as a result of the shooting and a woman was also shot and was taken to the hospital by EMS, according to reporting by Fox 8.

But even with the tragic deaths, data collected by the cities of Greensboro and Winston-Salem show that violent crime, including homicides are trending down. And that reflects a national trend.

According to data collected by the Greensboro Police Department, there have been 182 aggravated assaults and 7 homicides via firearms this year through March 3. That reflects a 36 percent decrease in gun homicides compared to this time last year but a 27 percent increase in assaults.

Still, FBI data (which tracks violent crime per 100,000 inhabitants) for GPD shows that since 2020, the numbers of total violent crime has gone down for the department.

A chart showing the numbers of violent crimes reported by the Greensboro Police Department from 2011-22.

In High Point, police officers were dispatched to the 400 block of Vail Avenue for a shooting that occurred around 6:15 p.m. on Friday evening. The person struck by gunfire has a serious injury, but police say it does not appear to be life-threatening, according to WXII News 12. The High Point Police Department does not publish its crime data online but data that the department sent to the FBI showed that in the last few years, violent crime has decreased significantly.

In 2019, the HPD reported 830 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in the city. In 2020 and 2021, that number fell to 786 and 603, respectively. In 2022, the department logged 626 violent crimes, a slight uptick from the previous year.

About 30 minutes after the shooting in High Point, officers in Winston-Salem were dispatched to the 3200 block of Fleet Street after a man was shot multiple times while walking near a park. According to news reports, 27-year-old Ramel Hoosier suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to his torso, legs and hand. Hoosier was taken into emergency surgery, where police said he is now in stable condition. His injuries were not expected to be life-threatening, according to ABC 45.

According to the Winston-Salem Police Department’s data, there has been 3 homicides and 283 aggravated assaults this year through February. That’s a decrease in numbers compared to both 2023 and 2022 which saw much higher rates of homicides and aggravated assaults by this time in the year.

FBI data shows that while there was a slight uptick from 2021 to 2022 in violent crime, the numbers were still lower than 2020.

Violent crime data reported by the WSPD from 2011-2022.

Despite the widespread belief that there is more crime nationwide, the numbers actually show that crime is trending downwards. Compared to 2021 and 2022, crime has dropped in the past few years, coming down from the pandemic peak when violent crime was surging. According to FBI data, the numbers show that violent crime rates are almost back to pre-pandemic levels and that includes rates for homicides and aggravated assaults.

And the trend continued in 2023, too. According to data collected and analyzed by Jeff Asher, a crime analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics, there was a 11.8 percent decrease in homicides from 2022 to 2023.

“The national picture shows that murder is falling. We have data from over 200 cities showing a 12.2 percent decline … in 2023 relative to 2022,” Asher told NPR.

Despite the decreasing numbers in violent crime, in the last few years, police departments across the country have increased their budgets. According to reporting by ABC News, which analyzed the budgets of more than 100 cities and counties, 83 percent of municipalities increased their police spending by at least 2 percent in 2022 compared to 2019.

And that is reflected in the Triad, too.

The Greensboro Police headquarters in downtown Greensboro. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

In Guilford County, spending for the sheriff’s office increased about 8 percent for the 2023-24 budget compared to the 2022-23 year. In Forsyth County, the sheriff’s office’s budget decreased by $528,388.

In both Greensboro and Winston-Salem, the budget for the police departments increased compared to last year.

So, does more spending on law enforcement mean less crime?

According to researchers in Canada, there’s no direct correlation or causation.

“We didn’t see kind of consistent correlation between crime rates and police funding,” Mélanie Seabrook, a researcher at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions and the paper’s lead author, told the New York Times.

Of course, part of the question that remains to be answered is how the police departments are spending the money they get. In both Greensboro and Winston-Salem, police departments have been working to staff up and operate alternative and co-response teams to decrease police violence, which disproportionately affects communities of color.

And last year, the state legislature passed a law that allows for civilian personnel to investigate traffic crashes. Investigators do not have the authority to arrest or issue criminal process. The idea was that this would free up police to investigate violent and serious crimes rather than routine traffic issues.

The move is seen as a continuation of the alternative police ideology.

“Using non-law enforcement personnel to respond to calls for service is not a new practice,” a UNC School of Government post reads. “As the Lab is discovering in The Alternative Responder Project, many North Carolina jurisdictions already use non-law enforcement personnel to respond to calls for service involving social issues such as homelessness and mental health and substance use crises. Nor is it a novel concept to limit law enforcement involvement in administrative traffic issues.” As the School’s Legal and Policy Research Associate Emily Roscoe summarized here, jurisdictions in North Carolina and across the country have made legal and policy changes limiting law enforcement involvement in traffic violations.”

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