New data from the Asheville Police Department (APD) shows the city's violent crimes are up 34% this year compared to 2021. The city’s crime trend is making national headlines with a Fox News report, citing Asheville's liberal leadership as partly to blame.
The article said Asheville's crime surged by 31% over five years through 2020. Since that data was nearly two years old, News 13 requested the trending data for the past 18 months.
“Violent crime is on the rise,” Asheville police spokesman Bill Davis said. “It’s primarily due to the rise in aggravated assaults.”
APD reports the city has had 11 killings so far in 2022. The number surpasses the seven killings in 2021 and the 10 reported in 2020.
News 13 has been tracking crime data closely for years. In 2021, APD Deputy Chief Mike Yelton reported the trend.
“We are up,” Yelton said at the time but added context. “Violent crime is up nationwide.”
The Fox News article cited “multiple local law enforcement sources” who “laid partial blame for the deteriorating condition” on the “city’s liberal political leadership and on left-wing activists who undermine police.”
“I don’t think this is really about liberal versus conservative, just grabbing the city of Asheville, which is the example they use in this Fox News article,” Western Carolina University Political Science Department chairman Chris Cooper said. “We haven’t had a Republican mayor in the city of Asheville for a good long time now.”
Cooper said the article’s timing dovetails with upcoming national midterm elections.
“We’ve had Democratic mayors when crime has been down. We’ve had Democratic mayors when crime has been up," Cooper said.
Zach Smith, a legal fellow with conservative thinktank Heritage Foundation challenged Cooper’s dismissal of political leadership and leanings when it comes to crime surges.
“I think in many big cities across the country, many of which are Democratic-led, they’ve, unfortunately, adopted policies that seek to defund the police but also demoralize the police,” Smith said. “It sounds like Asheville is currently experiencing these problems, as well.”
Asheville’s violent crime had a 31% surge from 2016-2020. The new numbers APD report surpass that trend.
APD reported a drop in gun discharge calls in 2021. Chief David Zach credited the department’s gun suppression unit.
But the department continues to face significant staff shortages. Last summer, the New York Times published a deep-dive piece about the mass exodus of Asheville police leaving amid poor morale and anti-police protests in the city.
Police sources at the time also confirmed to News 13 that officers felt little support from the Democratic-led city council and Mayor Esther Manheimer.
“It will ultimately be up to voters to decide whether they like these policies and the consequences that follow from them,” Smith said.
Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer released the following statement:
Public safety is a priority for the Asheville community. With the approval of the FY 2023 budget, adopted June 28, 2022, City Council continues its support of rebuilding the ranks of APD by increasing police wages, with starting salaries for trainee officers increased 19%, coming in just under $43,000/year, and salaries for newly sworn officers increased 22%. Both categories receive full benefits.
According to recent APD crime statistics, the City of Asheville is experiencing a 3% overall decrease in crime, compared to averages over the last three years. However, city leaders acknowledge that the type of crime has changed. With a rise in violent crimes, city leaders have supported the police as they take proactive steps to reallocate staff resources to critical areas. This challenge has been made more difficult for our community as APD is suffering workforce losses.
The City of Asheville is committed to maximizing all resources in service to the Asheville community. Recruitment and retention efforts remain a priority. Last year, City Council approved funds for APD to work with EPIC Recruiting to recruit exceptional police applicants. The new recruitment website was posted earlier this month, joinashevillepd.com, City leadership, supports and appreciates the men and women who serve our community, and have taken concrete measures to this end.
A closer look at the data
News 13 obtained violent crime data from Hendersonville and Hickory, two Republican-led cities. Both, however, have smaller populations than Asheville. All data was provided by each city’s police department.
- 2022 year-to-date: 0
- 2021: 0
- 2020: 2
- 2019: 2
- 2018: 2
Hendersonville violent crimes (killings, rape, robbery, burglary, sex assault, aggravated assault, arson)
- 2022 year-to-date: 38
- 2021: 62
- 2020: 45
- 2019: 42
- 2018: 28
- 2017: 69
- 2022 year-to-date: 6
- 2021: 8
- 2020: 5
- 2019: 4
- 2018: 3
- 2017: 8
- 2016: 6
Hickory aggravated assaults
- 2022: data unavailable
- 2021: 119
- 2020: 166
- 2019: 106
- 2018: 118
- 2017: 151
- 2016: 169
- 2022 year-to-date: 11
- 2021: 7
- 2020: 10
APD violent crime headlines
- 34% increase in violent crime so far this year over 2021
- 29% increase in violent crime this year over 2020 (ytd)
2020 violent crime comparison
- Asheville: 805 per 100,000 population (Asheville population 90,000)
- Charlotte: 916 per 100,000 population
- Wilmington: 685 per 100,000 population
- Fayetville: 995 per 100,000 population
2016-2020 violent crime
- North Carolina: +13%
- Asheville: + 31%
- Wilmington: + 3%
- Charlotte: + 13%
View This Story on Our Site