CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The new district attorney for Mecklenburg County is making some changes in the way the office approaches the prosecution of certain crimes.
District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced the initiatives at a breakfast forum with members of the community Tuesday morning.
Merriweather, 39, was sworn in as interim district attorney on Nov. 27 to serve out the last year of Andrew Murray's term. Murray had left to become the U.S Attorney for the Western District of NC.
Merriweather is the first African-American DA in Mecklenburg County. He had previously spent 11 years as a career prosecutor.
During Tuesday's forum, Merriweather talked about creating a team which focuses on crimes against women and children.
The Special Victims team will handle domestic violence, child abuse, and human trafficking cases.
"These are things that strike to the core of how people interact with one another," Merriweather said. "These are crimes that are extremely personal and there are specific types of needs that victims and survivors of these crimes need and we want to be able to address that."
The District Attorney's Office is also re-focusing the prosecution of violent crimes.
The office's Violent Crimes Team will now focus on robberies, shootings, and felony assaults.
"These are the types of crimes that can shut an entire neighborhood down. Even in the past few days you've heard about a string of robberies, a string of shootings and those are the things that incite fear on an entire block and an entire series of blocks so you've got to look at that type of crime specifically in that way and that it has a chilling effect in an entire neighborhood," Merriweather told the crowd. "There's a special way that you deal with a crime like that and we're going to have a special group of prosecutors dedicated to dealing with just that."
Merriweather also said he was looking into creating a Family Justice Center and an expungment clinic for the county.
Merriweather, who lives in Charlotte but is originally from Mobile, Alabama, began his career as a prosecutor in traffic court, then he joined the domestic violence team. He says he has also worked drug prosecution, robbery felonies and adult rape. At one point he supervised the habitual felon prosecution team. Merriweather spent the last year on the homicide prosecution team.
The interim term that Merriweather is serving will end on December 31, 2018. He says he intends to run for election for DA next year.