Advocacy group to host public safety forum

Public safety experts will come together this weekend to encourage residents to do more to keep themselves safe and inform them on what services local authorities offer.

The South Mecklenburg Alliance of Responsible Taxpayers will host the March 7 event aimed at bringing local police and fire officials together with area residents so the two sides can better their communication.

“South Mecklenburg is not without its share of problems,” Tim Timmerman, an event organizer, said about area public safety. “One of the biggest (problems) is communications. Some (people) wouldn’t call 911 because they think they have to pay if first responders come to their doors.”

Misconceptions like that will be a focus of the event, which will include area police commander James Wilson and Charlotte Fire Department battalion chief Mike Steele. Also on hand will be Bud Cesna, the head of police for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Timmerman hopes these leaders can work with residents to make sure every one is on the same page in terms of what police and the fire department does in south Charlotte.

“We hope to provide a better understanding of both what these agencies … do and what they can do and ultimately what people’s responsibilities are,” Timmerman said. “It’s a two-way street here. If we can broker that and bring the two together, that makes us very happy.”

Getting the community to be more aware of their surroundings and contact police when they see suspicious individuals in their communities is something Wilson and south Charlotte police have been working on, the police captain told South Charlotte Weekly in a recent interview. If people take more responsibility for things like locking their homes and vehicles, Wilson said area crime would go down.

But as people continue to neglect locking their cars or hiding valuables from plain sight, south Charlotte continues to see sprees of break-ins, with police saying some thieves will drive down to south Charlotte in order to take advantage of an area they know is more affluent.

Timmerman said he hopes people at the community forum will at least learn how to make a difference.

“After a year being here,” Timmerman said of his organization, “it is very apparent to us that the indifference is a big issue. It has to be addressed. We have to help overcome that, or at least make people more aware and more informed and maybe even more involved.”

Joining the police and fire officials at the March 7 event will be weapons safety experts Dan Starks and Don Pomeroy. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Raintree Country Club, 8600 Raintree Lane. Wayne Powers, a radio talk show host and recent candidate for the Mecklenburg County Commission, will moderate the discussion. There will be time for questions after the discussion.

Find more information about the event and SMART at www.facebook.com/12.smart.

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