CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather has created something he says is a first in North Carolina. His office now has a Diversity and Inclusion Team. The team has been in place for about five months and it consists of more than a dozen Assistant District Attorneys and legal assistants.
“I want to make sure that people understand that there isn’t a special type of justice for a particular type of people,” Merriweather said. “That it is the desire in their District Attorney’s office to make sure we are welcoming to everyone across the spectrum. We are trying to find equal justice under the law.”
Merriweather believes with crime on the rise in Charlotte and the city becoming more diverse - victims need to have trust in the District Attorney's Office.
"That they know and understand that the people who work at this office are here to work for them," Merriweather said. "No matter what they look like - no matter where they are from - no matter what their background is - that we will meet people where they are and that's critical."
The District Attorney says this addition of the team will be more of a shift in attitudes that could come with changes in policies. Merriweather insists forming this team doesn't mean there were problems within the department when it came to treating people fairly.
"We constantly need to find better ways to reach victims," Merriweather said. "It is important that we take a look at our work and look at it through an equity lens. Are there things that we can be doing better - are there ways we can be reaching people in a different way."
The Diversity and Inclusion Team is now working to expand its reach in the Latinx communities. The team is also preparing to get involved with Race Matters for Juvenile Justice Racial Equity Workshop, and to take a bus tour to different Charlotte neighborhoods to learn the history of the people and to better connect with its residents.
"It will force you to ask hard questions about things you have done in the past," Merriweather said. "And hard questions about your direction going forth."
The belief is if victims can trust the District Attorney's office more, crimes could get solved quicker.
“When a victim feels free,” Merriweather said. “And as if their District’s Attorney’s office will serve them and appreciates their full humanity that makes every single one of us safer.”