CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - By now, the CIAA has come and gone from Charlotte, and it's my understanding that next February, the NBA All-Star Weekend and the CIAA will both be here. These are significant signs that a vibrant, maturing, ever-expanding city surround us. As the world evolves, so must we. As the city grows, so must we, in more ways than one.
What I'd like to address here is how to adapt to increasing security concerns during special events hosted in the Queen City.
It seems that each year, as we watch the news during large special events, there's a rash of violent crime that follows in its wake. As I review past headlines, I see, "3 men charged after 40+ shots fired from AK-47 in uptown Charlotte." Last year it was, "Two people shot at NC Music Factory." The year before, "Two shot at party that featured rapper Diddy."
Moving forward, tourism officials say they plan to talk about the last three years of CIAA basketball tournaments closing out with shooting incidents. Are people concerned? Of course they are.
These past incidents have been attributed to troublemakers who were here because of the events. They committed isolated incidents. But the magnitude and timing of these incidents has amplified the affect of them on our community.
For some helpful advice, I turned to some tried and true safety measures:
- Be aware that large events can be an evacuation nightmare. If possible, position your seats close to an exit.
- When approaching or departing your venue, if you see groups of people running in a certain direction, curb your curiosity and walk the other way.
- If you get caught up in a large stampede of people, rapidly move behind a solid object that can protect you, such as a pillar, corner of a wall, stairs, etc.
- Know that after the streets get quiet in the early morning hours (2 AM to 4 AM), the propensity for targeted violence in the downtown area of any large venue host city increases.
- Avoid confrontations. As easy as that sounds, remember that celebratory booze and attitude don't mix, so avoid those that appear to be intoxicated or belligerent.
There is no reason to avoid all the great events that the city is bringing our way. Through the combined efforts of the venues, city leaders and public safety agencies, each year promises to be safer and better planned. But the most important person to maintaining a safe environment is you.