CMPD Monitoring Belk Bowl, NYE from Air and Ground

CHARLOTTE, NC — Tens of thousands will pack Uptown Charlotte starting Wednesday.

The city has declared the Belk Bowl, Fan Fest and New Year’s Eve extraordinary events. That gives police more power to searching anyone they say is suspicious.

It’s a response to violent crime here and terror concerns around the world.

Road blocks went up Tuesday as police prepared the area around the Bank of America Stadium for Fan Fest.

It’s always a crowded, controlled chaos for 40,000 plus people packing the event.

In the background, police look for anyone who could cause harm to crowds.

“It’s what you normally expect when you mix alcohol and crowds: behavioral type issues, there’s fights. We have some weapons charges. We see disorder type things when people lose control after they consume too much alcohol,” said Deputy Chief Jeff Estes.

Deputy Chief Estes says people who have had ongoing disputes with others and bring that to the crowd can put innocent people in danger.

Something we saw last week when two groups of people opened fire inside Northlake Mall on Christmas Eve.

Innocent people in the crossfire, coupled with terror attacks around the world, led the city to declare the Belk Bowl and Fan Fest extraordinary events for the first time.

“We’ve planned for it. We know there’s enhanced security. We welcome that security,” said Charlotte Sports Foundation Executive Director Will Webb. “We want our fans to feel safe, and so this helps us a lot.”

It’s now the norm for events open to the public. Police will be walking through the crowds, in their cars, on motorcycles and using CMPD’s helicopters.

They will also be watching cameras, searching backpacks and people for bombs or weapons.

“Trust me, the officers are the ones who go out and serve the after effects of things that take place,” said Deputy Chief Estes. “They know what’s at stake.”

It doesn’t cost anything more to staff for an extraordinary event. It just gives police more power to search anyone.