When 400,000 people flock to the Circle K Speed Street this week, Felicia Lewis will be part of the crowd. She works in uptown and is new to Charlotte.
Like many, she's also once again reminded of how precious our safety is after the terror attack in Manchester, England that killed and wounded dozens of concert-goers. ISIS has claimed responsibility and officials have said a suicide bomber carried out the attack.
“I would definitely feel more comfortable if I saw more police officers out and about - just ensuring our safety and giving everyone that comfort that you need after an incident like that,” said Lewis.
Extra security has always been a big part of Speed Street over the past two decades. However, 2017 marks the first year in recent times that the City has not declared Speed Street an “extraordinary event,” which gives police broader authority to search people.
It’s one tool police have used to keep the crowds safe.
“Security doesn't just begin when you walk onto Speed Street,” said WBTV Security Expert Karl de la Guerra. “There's already layers of security blocks and blocks before you ever get to that area.”
De la Guerra says law enforcement will constantly evaluate new intelligence and be ready to adjust quickly should a new threat arise.
“This is a soft target. However, you have to look at what the terrorists’ goals are,” said de la Guerra. “They want to disrupt a population so we don't enjoy our way of life. There is no need for fear here, there is a need to just remain vigilant.”
Security is tight with or without the City of Charlotte’s extraordinary events ordinance, which is likely to be repealed and replaced next month after concern it was used too often and led to unnecessary searches.
Council Member Julie Eiselt supports repeal.
“We don't need to continue to use it for events. We need to make sure police have what they need to keep people safe,” said Eiselt. “It isn't so much about an event as it is about what tools do they need."
Everyone wants that elusive perfect solution in balancing security and enjoyment. It matters to citizens like Lewis.
“Just knowing you put forth the effort to try to keep everyone safe is really important,” she said.
The City and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police will discuss safety plans Wednesday during a press briefing. There's also a public hearing at City Council on June 6 about repealing the extraordinary events ordinance. What happens up the street this week will likely be a talking point for police and the public.
Lane closures begin Tuesday night along Mint Street between 3rd Street and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard. Additional street closings happen Wednesday and continue through the event along Tryon Street May 25 through 27.
For more information on Speed Street parking, concerts and events, click here.