The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) has proposed a plan to Charlotte City Council to create “public safety zones” throughout the city that would ban citizens with past arrests from entering.  


Charlotte City police car


If this plan goes into effect, the police department’s chief, Kerr Putney, would have the power to turn locations where crime is most prevalent into public safety zones. When someone with a past arrest enters one of these proposed zones, they would then be charged with a misdemeanor. Should the Charlotte City Council approve of this proposal?


If council members decide to implement public safety zones into their community, they would be supporting a form of segregation. These zones would dehumanize those with past arrests by making it seem as if they are lesser human beings that shouldn’t be allowed to mix with certain populations. The police department’s plan seems to make the assumption that everyone with an arrest record is a potential threat.


All it would take is one arrest on someone’s record, whether they were charged with the crime or not, and they would be outlawed from these zones. According to a 2011 study published in Pediatrics journal, about 41 percent of Americans are arrested at least once by the time they’re 23 years old. With such a high rate of arrests in the United States, it seems unlikely that most of these people present a danger to their community.    


Rather than helping those with past offenses turn their lives around, it makes it more difficult for them to do so. Anyone with an arrest record employed in a public safety zone would have to choose between quitting their job or risking a misdemeanor each day they work. If a safety zone is placed on or near a school, it would make it difficult for some parents to support their children by attending their school or sporting events.   


It’s unlikely that the implementation of public safety zones would actually result in reduced crime. City council member Claire Fallon stated that she “doesn’t know” if these zones would keep lawbreakers away. Fallon questioned the police department’s proposal by asking “if someone doesn’t obey the law, do you think a safety zone will impress them?”


Charlotte City Council is still discussing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s plan, and once council members make their vote, a final decision will be made.


Do you think public safety zones should go into effect? If they are implemented in Charlotte, will other cities create safety zones? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.