Asheville police report citywide violent, property crime drop in first 3 months of 2024 (2024)

ASHEVILLE — Crime in Asheville appears to be continuing on a downward trajectory set by a record drop in crime last year, based on crime data for the first three months of 2024 presented by the Asheville Police Department to City Council committee members.

At an Environment and Safety Committee meeting April 23, APD Capt. Sean Aardema reported citywide violent crime decreased by 9% from Jan. 1 to March 31 compared to the same time last year — a drop that APD attributes to its “proactive policing efforts and community engagement efforts,” which are “predominately data-driven.”

Property crime also saw a drop overall, from 1,024 crimes for the first three months of last year to 968 crimes during the same period in 2024. That’s about a 6% decrease, as reported by APD, and represents a five-year low for the first quarter of the year.

Asheville police report citywide violent, property crime drop in first 3 months of 2024 (1)

In the meeting, Police Chief Mike Lamb suggested that the reduction in both property and violent crime can be attributable to addiction recovery and addiction support services that have “come online since the pandemic” because “we see addiction and crime just so intertwined within the city.”

He also noted that the Pretrial Integrity Act "has helped us out tremendously, especially with repeat offenders."

Asheville police report citywide violent, property crime drop in first 3 months of 2024 (2)

More:Asheville crime falls after record highs; police give numbers for violent, property crimes

This continued drop in crime persists while the police department remains understaffed and in need of officers to fill vacancies left in the wake of mass resignations three years ago, according to police.

APD has filled two vacancies since last reported by the Citizen Times, but still have 27%, or 63 out of 238 sworn officer positions, that are vacant.

But in the meeting, Aardema said that APD has 162 sworn officers that are considered full duty officers, meaning they aren't in any sort of field training or police academy training. That number is down nearly 32% from full staffing with full duty officers, according to APD.

When considering officers who are injured or out on leave, APD has 145 available sworn officers that Lamb said are "offering services to the city of Asheville on any given day."

With more officers, Lamb said APD could bring back its Public Housing Liaison Unit, the Traffic Safety Unit, as well as add a Downtown Specialty Unit and Downhill Bike and Foot Patrol Unit.

More:Despite vacancies crime dropped, raising the question: does Asheville need more police?

Crime stats, by the area

Looking at the past five years, the first and last quarters of the year have the lowest volumes of crime on average, according to APD spokesperson Rick Rice.

The 6% reduction in property crime is due primarily to the reductions reported in West and Central Asheville, according to APD.

"In essence, the reduction incitywideproperty crime was driven by reductions in those areas," Rice said.

In the first three months of 2024, downtown Asheville reported two fewer violent crimes — homicide, aggravated assault, rape and robbery — than this time last year, and six fewer property crimes. In the first quarter of 2023, APD's Charlie district, which constitutes downtown and surrounding areas, had 24 violent crimes compared to 22 so far this year and 120 property crimes in 2023 compared to 114 this year.

Asheville police report citywide violent, property crime drop in first 3 months of 2024 (3)

West Asheville was the one area that increased in violent crime compared to this time last year, with four more violent crimes reported, up from 30 to 34. However, West Asheville also had the largest decrease in property crime, with 51 fewer reported property crimes than this time last year, down from 274 to 223.

“Our district personnel out there have really taken a deep dive into what the data shows where the crime is occurring there,” Aardema said regarding the West Asheville property crime drop. “And (they’ve) focused a lot of proactive efforts in specific areas in West Asheville, which has seen a trend in that reduction.”

East and North Asheville saw the largest increase in property crime compared to this time last year, with 20 more incidents than last year's 337, for a total of 357 in the first quarter. This area also had six less violent crimes, down from 48 in 2023.

Asheville police report citywide violent, property crime drop in first 3 months of 2024 (4)

The largest increase in property crime occurred specifically in the area APD refers to as Baker4, which includes the area east of downtown roughly encircled by Biltmore Avenue to the west, I-240 to the east, and I-40 to the south. The area had 49 more property crimes from January through March compared to last year, up from 158 to 207.

“The overwhelming majority of the rise in property crime is due to an uptick in retail theft, namely shoplifting,” with 36 more incidents than last year, Rice said. There were also eight more motor vehicle break-ins than last year and four arsons where last year had none.

South Asheville had 15 more property crimes than last year's 141 and eight fewer violent crimes, falling from 35, thus far in 2024 compared to the start of 2023.

More:Downtown Asheville not so dangerous? Data: These neighborhoods have more crime, violence

Ryley Ober is the Public Safety Reporter for Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at rober@gannett.com and follow her on Twitter @ryleyober

Asheville police report citywide violent, property crime drop in first 3 months of 2024 (2024)
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