Police hope a show of force will make this July Fourth seem like it was years ago in Charlotte – when the biggest concern about coming uptown for fireworks was where to park.
Three years after one person was shot in the face at the uptown fireworks display during what police called a civil disturbance, police say revelers should expect 400 to 450 extra officers on duty throughout the city, said Deputy Chief Jerry Sennett.
The police presence will be similar to the force in place uptown last Independence Day and New Year's Eve night.
The plan includes a stronger police presence in all districts than in years past. The civil patrol – officers specially trained to quell riots – will be on alert while other officers will cruise area roads looking for drunk drivers. Police say there also will be DWI checkpoints.
“The public should know that this is the way we're going to be and this is the way we're going to police,” Sennett said of the uptown police presence. “It's going to be thousands of people and we want thousands of people to come. We just want them to behave.”
Last Fourth of July, there were no major disruptions in the center city and police made 169 arrests – a sixfold increase over the two previous years. Sennett said officers had a problem with some youths, and will strictly enforce the city's midnight curfew on Friday. Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult after that time.
Last year, one of the biggest problems was the time it took to process people headed to jail, with lines outside the door to the intake center.
This year police are working with about 100 sheriff's deputies – 25 more than last year – to speed up processing.