Public safety one of the topics stressed at meetings leading up to CIAA tournament

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's that time of the year. Uptown Charlotte will soon be transformed with several thousands of people expected for the annual Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) tournament.

Events during the 2017 tournament were over shadowed by what police described as a rolling gun battle between two groups described as rappers near the intersection of North Caldwell Street and 8th Street.

More than 100 rounds were fired. No one was hurt, but local residents had to run and duck for cover.

So what's being done to make sure there's no repeat of shootings or violence?

"My hope is that we don't have any incidents and that we do all we can as a city, as a community and with the CIAA to protect the folks that come here to Charlotte," Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams told WBTV

Commissioner McWilliams says there have been several meeting with city officials and police. Conference officials have also met with business owners.

The commissioner says when it comes to entertainment they're stressing that venue owners do their homework and vet the entertainment acts.

"We want restaurant owners who are booking events to be very mindful on who you're bringing into your venue and the impact it could have if it's someone who has a history and they're bring it into the city of Charlotte," McWilliams said, adding the CIAA screens entertainment for official CIAA events. "For us to have an understanding of who is coming in is helpful. We're collaborating with public safety where we know events that we have approved to be in certain venues but what we say is vet out who you're bringing. We vet out for entertainment. We just don't bring any entertainment to come in a venue because we know the entourage could look like."

"We knew there were some players out there that did not have safety in mind when they came to town so we want to make sure that we're monitoring and we're aware of all the events that attract all kind of people when they come here to Charlotte as part of CIAA week" said Assistant City Manager Danny Pleasant.

Which is why the city has made some changes.

In the past, promoters and event organizers who wanted to set up a large tent on private property had to go to each department such as fire, police and ABC to get individual permits. The city says this year one office will handle permits for large tents on private property.

"We'll also be including in our application information about the property owner so that we know which property owner is involved as well as the promoters that are involved," Assistant Manager Pleasant said. "It makes sure our police officers know where these events are occurring, can be aware when they're there, monitor them if they believe it's necessary to monitor them and just provide that presence so folks feel secure in that environment."

The CIAA Commissioner says while the conference doesn't have a say on events outside of official CIAA events, she's been in meeting with city officials to learn how city staff plan to address issues.

"We want to know where those events are being held, who's getting access to those events and holding that event holder accountable if something happens that takes place during the foot print of our tournament," McWilliams said.

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