Citizens can help make our community safer

The public is up in arms about crime in Mecklenburg County, and there's no better time to do something about it. Public officials who have a hand in dealing with crime are up for election – from county commissioners who fund the jails to judges who oversee criminal cases to state legislators and the governor who create the state budget that funds prosecution. All contribute to the crime-fighting effort.

Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg county commissioners are considering steps to improve public safety. One way for citizens to be involved is through a Justice and Public Safety Task Force to be appointed by the commissioners. They seek 10 people to work with co-chairs Shirley Fulton and Harry Nurkin to survey public safety and crime fighting needs and practices, then recommend actions to make our community safer.

An applicant must be a Mecklenburg resident, can't be a current elected official or candidate for elected office, and must be able to devote time for meetings and other work during some weekdays between June and September. Experience in the criminal justice system is not required. Application deadline is Wednesday.

Requests for funds to fight crime compete with all other government-provided services. But in increasing numbers, citizens have been saying public safety must be a higher community priority.

That message is getting through to local officials, who are prepared to take action. Whether it has gotten through to Raleigh remains to be seen. In recent years the legislature has made some progress in staffing the Mecklenburg district attorney's office, but it still has far less resources than prosecutors' offices in many urban areas of similar size.