CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Leaders raised new concerns about sobriety checkpoints at last night's Charlotte City Council meeting after a saturation patrol coincided on the same day and the same side of town as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid.
Council members were supposed to be approving a generally non-controversial grant for the city's DWI task force, which they ultimately did, but not before heated discussion.
Several council members questioned Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's traffic safety checkpoints. CMPD said those checkpoints are held at specific locations that need more proactive enforcement based on data.
An NBC Charlotte Defenders investigation found the checkpoints mostly result in the arrests and ticketing of sober drivers for less serious crimes.
"It carries levels of consequence that are inequitable around different parts of town," Councilmember Braxton Winston said.
The approval of the grant came on the heels of ICE raids described as "the new normal." Some leaders fear those federal raids coupled with local targeted policing result in a negative public perception.
"It creates confusion," Councilmember Larken Egleston said. "It creates additional anxiety than what's already there."
CMPD said the fact that one of the ICE raids fell on the same day, but different time as a local DWI saturation patrol was simply a coincidence.
CMPD said its DWI task force makes enforcement decisions without consulting with federal counterparts and is not given any forewarning of potential ICE raids. Instead, the DWI task force is focused strictly on keeping the roads safe.
"I think the idea that there was some sort of collusion with anybody else is just disrespectful to our police department," Councilmember Ed Driggs said, later adding, "This has been politicized and distorted."
Just last week, CMPD made it clear the agency has not and will not participate in ICE immigration enforcement operations. Earlier this month, ICE raids led to the arrests of 200 illegal immigrants in North Carolina.