The FBI says Fayetteville has the fifth highest rate of property crime in America, according to analysis of crimes rates for large cities in 2012. The figures come in the same week the Fayetteville City Council voted to pass up a tax increase that would have raised money for 15 new police officers.
City Councilman William Crisp said, at some point, more money will have to be spent on crime.
“What is evident to us, we are gonna have to...increase citizen’s taxes, in order to hire a significant number of police officers to combat crime," Crisp said.
The FBI analysis also found Fayetteville ranked sixth for burglary and eighth for larceny, for cities with a population more than 100,000.
Dr. Lorenzo Boyd, a criminal justice professor at Fayetteville State, says there are three main causes of Fayetteville's high crime figures.
Number one? Community policing is paying off.
“The citizens are more willing to report everything to police, whereas as previously they weren't,” says Boyd.
So, crime may look like it's higher when, really, people are just reporting more of what was already going on.
Number two? Transiency.
"Either people moving in and out because of economic reasons, or the military coming in and moving out every two or three years or so," Dr. Boyd says. He says when fewer residents put down roots for a long time, they are much less likely to be involved in programs like neighborhood watch that help keep communities safe.
Number three? The economy.
"There's a also a real relationship between the economic climate and crimes rates,” says Boyd.
Fewer jobs mean more crime. Dr. David Barlow, also a Criminal Justice professor at Fayetteville State, says income inequality matters, too. It’s not just being without a job – Barlow argues that crime went down during the Great Depression, when unemployment was at a record high. Barlow claims that having abject poverty right next to wealth is part of the reason crime can be high in places like Fayetteville.
Fayetteville City Council member William Crisp says a lot of the criminals in aren’t just evil caricatures; they’re victims of desperate circumstances:
“Everybody in America is not a drug addict," Crisp says. "And so many of the people who are stealing and breaking and entering, they don’t have drug problems – they have a lack of money problem!”
Crisp thinks taxes will have to go up in Fayetteville to better fight crime and get people jobs. The Fayetteville City Council voted this week to pass up tax hikes that would have helped pay for 15 new police officers, in a 9-1 vote that adopted the latest budget proposal from City Manager Ted Voorhees. The move would have increased the tax ate by a penny, to help pay 25 percent of the salary for 15 new police officers for three years. A federal grant would have paid the other 75 percent. The city would have been on the hook for supplies and equipment for the new officers.
Dr. Boyd at Fayetteville State, who is an academic advisor to the Fayetteville Police Department, claims that the police force in the city – under 400 – is just too small. Fayetteville’s population is 204,000, and many days, the population can rise to 300,000 during business hours, when Ft. Bragg is running at 100 percent and the town is filling its role as the economic hub in the area. Boyd said that can mean sometimes only 25-30 officers are policing some 300,000 people at once.