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Safety Committee Tables Exclusion Zones

Gwendolyn Glenn/WFAE

There will be no exclusion zones set up in Charlotte where people who commit crimes in designated areas are banned from those communities. The City Council’s safety committee members tabled any further discussion on the issue at a packed meeting today.

The decision not to send the public safety or exclusion zone issue to the full council came as no surprise. Chairwoman Claire Fallon made it clear earlier she did not think exclusion zones would reduce crime. At the meeting, which was filled with representatives from the ACLU, Black Lives Matter and others opposed to zones, Fallon reiterated that point.

“The problem is we just move it to another neighborhood and then we have a problem there,” Fallon said.

That was the case when prostitution-free zones were set up for three years in 2005 along Wilkinson Boulevard.

Chief Kerr Putney says his legal team found the cons associated with exclusion zones outweighed the pros. Their research uncovered problems with zones in Portland, Oregon being unfairly enforced and CMPD was not sure the zones would fare well against legal challenges. Putney says he is also concerned that exclusion zones would stigmatize neighborhoods. He told the committee they have other strategies available that are more effective than exclusion zones.  

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn/WFAE
Councilman Al Austin and safety committee chairwoman Claire Fallon listen to discussion on exclusion zones

“We didn’t have this in the toolbox in the first place and we can move forward without it,” Putney said. “Right now we have a lot of strategies in place and we’re just still trying to build trust so the community will feel comfortable in reaching out so we can give them the police service they deserve.”

The idea of exclusion zones was pushed by Councilman Al Austin in response to resident concerns about increased crime in his district, which includes parts of West and North Charlotte.

“The chief looked at the pros and cons and felt this was not the best option and that’s OK, so we now need to look at other strategies to address crime. The people want solutions,” Austin said.

Credit g
Erick Ortega holds sign expressing his opposition to public safety zones during packed meeting on the issue

Fallon says she considers the issue dead and is confident CMPD will find better ways to tackle Charlotte’s rising crime.