Seven Chapel Hill Restaurants Cited for Serving Alcohol to Underage Buyer

Chapel Hill Police cited seven businesses late last week for violating state alcohol laws.

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says law enforcement will periodically run compliance checks on local establishments, the most recent of which was last Thursday night.

“Thursday nights are typically a pretty busy nights for bars,” he says. “We sometimes will do compliance checks on Thursday nights, Friday nights, Saturday nights – the busier nights – because we know that people are, unfortunately, more likely to be complacent when checking ID’s when they’re busy.”

Mecimore says 34 businesses were targeted as part of the investigation.

“We had seven – Tobacco Road, Red Lotus, Sandwhich, Breadmen’s, Chipotle, Four Corners, and Cosmic Cantina – where servers were cited for serving to an underage buyer,” he says. “That, for us at least, is a drastic reduction in the fail rate that we had from the same time period last year, 50 percent of the businesses that we checked failed. And then we did one in June where 37 percent failed.

“That seven out of 34 is a good increase. It’s not where we’d like it to be; we’d like to have zero [failures].”

Mecimore adds the citations in these situations are issued directly to the servers.

“It’s the server’s responsibility to ensure that everybody that they serve is of legal age,” he says. “The employee that serves the alcohol in these compliance checks will get issued a citation for violating that state law.

“But the violation is also reported to the North Carolina ABC Commission, so that the ABC Commission knows that that business was found to not be in compliance.”

He says at that point, the businesses may be ordered to attend training that is offered by the police department known as BARS – or be a responsible server.

“Have us give them some education on what to look for when looking at fake ID’s,” he says, “what their responsibilities are, what we expect of them, and what will happen to them if they are caught outside of those rules.”

Mecimore says some businesses choose to send employees to this training before they are required by court after a finding of noncompliance.

Mecimore says there are no set guidelines put forward to choose the locations checked during compliance investigations, but there are some factors brought into consideration.

“Some of those are picked because we’ve had noncompliance there before,” he says, “where you’re going back and checking the same businesses. And some of them are new businesses because they’ve popped up since [the last compliance check].”

Mecimore says more compliance checks will be done in the future, but there is no timeframe for the operation.

Alcohol-Related Incidents Keep Chapel Hill Police Busy

As the first week of classes at UNC wrapped up, it kicked off the first full weekend of parties with the full student body back on campus. And as the campus was filled with revelers, the UNC student charged in the triple-fatal wrong-way crash on I-85 in July was served new charges.

The police blotter is full of alcohol violations from Thursday through Sunday night.

Chapel Hill Police responded to multiple calls of loud music and parties in Fraternity Court, on the UNC campus, and on Church Street, in Chapel Hill, leading to 10 citations for underage possession of alcohol being issued to citizens between the age of 18 and 20.

It wasn’t only the under-21 population breaking the rules, police also issued six open container citations for the over-21 crowd, along with a 21-year old charged with resisting arrest and public urination, and a 22-year-old cited for being drunk and disruptive and resisting arrest.

More students were issued citations this weekend than compared with move-in weekend earlier this month.

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore told WCHL recently that authorities are typically very active early in the semester.

“Our hope is that parents will have set those kids up with some good decision-making skills,” he says, “and then when we set clear expectations, that they’ll choose to follow those. We know that some people won’t.

“But we try to set clear expectations, and then we’re going to have some consequences for those who don’t follow those expectations. And that’s especially true at the beginning of the school year.”

He adds police also have concentrated efforts and a larger volume of calls on certain occasions, including football games and the days surrounding breaks in the academic calendar.

Renewed focus has been aimed at underage drinking on the UNC campus after a rising junior was involved in a triple-fatal wrong-way crash earlier this summer.

20-year-old Chanlder Kania has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder after allegedly driving his 2005 Jeep Wrangler the wrong way on I-85 for at least six miles before crashing head-on into another vehicle, killing three of the four passengers.

Kania was cited on Friday with two additional charges of obtaining alcohol with a false ID, according to court documents.

Kania is currently under house arrest in Asheboro after posting a $1 million bond. He is scheduled to be back in court on his initial charges on September 25 and has an appearance on October 8 for the additional allegations.

Victim’s Family Files Suit Against Wrong-Way I-85 Crash Suspect

The family of a Charlotte woman killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 85 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Multiple media outlets report that attorneys for the family of 46-year-old Darlene McGee said Tuesday they want punitive and compensatory damages from 20-year-old Chandler Michael Kania.

The UNC-Chapel Hill student faces multiple charges, including second-degree murder. The N.C. Highway Patrol says Kania was driving north in the southbound lanes near the split of I-85 and Interstate 40 in Orange County on July 19 when his Jeep Wrangler collided with a Suzuki.

Killed were McGee and 49-year-old Felicia Harris, also of Charlotte, and 6-year-old Jahnice Baird, of New York. A 9-year-old suffered serious injuries. Prosecutors Kania’s blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit and he had marijuana in his system.

Cyclist Hit at Franklin-Columbia Intersection on Tuesday

A female cyclist was transported to UNC Hospitals on Tuesday afternoon after being struck by a vehicle, Chapel Hill Police confirmed on Wednesday.

WCHL first reported the collision based off of eye-witness reports that the crash occurred around 4:30 Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets.

A police official says the cyclist suffered “serious but not life-threatening” injuries.

The spokesperson adds the driver of the vehicle stopped and was cooperating with the investigation, which is ongoing.

No further information is available at this time concerning the status of the cyclist.

University Police Review Process after Cincinnati Shooting

Campus police across the country are reviewing procedures after a University of Cincinnati Police Officer has been indicted on a murder charge for shooting an unarmed motorist.

UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken says campus police will discuss safety in the light of a recent shooting of an unarmed black male that had been pulled over for driving without a front license plate by a University of Cincinnati officer.

“I think all police talk about it,” he says. “We do use-of-force training regularly, as part of our required in-service training. We do active-shooter training.

“We do a lot of training to try to ensure that our officers have the tools and know how to respond when they are in these potentially life-threatening situations. Certainly, when one of these cases is publicized to the level this one is, there will be discussion about it.”

Ray Tensing is the first officer in Cincinnati to face murder charges for killing someone in the line of duty, according to local media reports.

The shooting was caught on Tensing’s body camera and is being used as key evidence that the 25-year-old Tensing initially lied to his supervisors about what happened at the traffic stop to lead to the death of 43-year-old Samuel Dubose.

McCracken adds UNC Police are close to implementing the use of body cameras on all campus officers.

“We have received body cameras,” he says. “We’re finalizing what our policy will be. And we’ll be training our officers and should have them deployed very soon.”

The prosecutor in the case is calling for the Univeristy of Cincinnati police force to be disbanded.

Tensing entered a not guilty plea in the courtroom on Thursday and was released after posting $1 million bond. He is due back in court August 19.

Lawson Arrested For DUI; Second Time This Year

Former UNC basketball star Ty Lawson has reportedly been arrested in Los Angeles for driving under the influence.

TMZ and Yahoo Sports are reporting Lawson was pulled over on the 101 freeway at 2:30 Tuesday morning, initially for speeding. This is Lawson’s second DUI arrest this year; he was also arrested for underage drinking and driving in 2008, while still at Carolina.

Lawson also backed out of a scheduled commitment to a youth basketball camp in Denver this week, citing a conflict with his “traveling schedule.”

Lawson plays for the Denver Nuggets in the NBA.

Chapel Hill Police Investigate Body Found In Car

Chapel Hill Police are investigating after a man was found dead in his car at Timberlyne Shopping Center Monday morning.

Police were called the scene around 6 a.m. Officials say the cause of death has not yet been determined, but Chapel Hill Police Lt. Josh Mecimore said that foul play has been ruled out.

The man was identified as 55-year-old William Macintosh III, of Efland.

Police: “If you see something, say something” After Chapel Hill Break-Ins

Chapel Hill Police are investigating a string of break-ins.

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says the department is taking this opportunity to remind residents to always lock their vehicles and homes after a series of break-ins with a common theme – it was unlocked.

Mecimore says most reports have been vehicle break-ins but there were two apartment break-ins last week in the Chapel Ridge apartment complex.

“In both incidents, the occupant woke up [and] saw a man standing in their bedroom,” he says. “He takes off running and leaves, didn’t steal anything.

“We want to encourage people to always lock your door…whether you’re home or not, just have it locked.”

Mecimore has some tips to keep your items safe.

“Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen an increase in break-ins to vehicles and the common theme with them is that they are unlocked,” he says. “Sometimes nothing is taken. Sometimes things are taken.

“We always try to encourage people to lock their vehicles, take items of value out of the vehicle; don’t leave things visible inside the vehicle. If you do have to leave something in it, maybe put it in the trunk or have a place to hide it.”

Mecimore says authorities are still investigating the incidents and looking for suspects.

“I don’t know that there’s a relationship between the car B&E’s and the apartment B&E’s,” he says. “In the last month, we’ve made an arrest in a couple of those car break-ins, and I think may have some additional charges coming out on the same person that we arrested for those.

“I don’t think for a minute that all of those are the same person.”

Mecimore says police are looking for help from citizens in making an arrest.

“If you see something, say something,” he encourages. “You know what’s normal in your neighborhood. If you see something that seems out of the ordinary, suspicious, or causes you any concern, then call us.”

Mecimore reminds residents a call on something suspicious is not a waste of time if it turns out to be nothing illegal, adding that could be the call that leads to an arrest.

CHPD Offers Moped Drivers One Month To Register

Chapel Hill Police are giving moped users about a month to comply with a new state requirement that mopeds must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and display a license plate.

“The state law doesn’t specify any length of time where people would be given warnings, or we do some sort of educational campaign,” says Lt. Josh Mecimore, spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department. “Our plan is to take the first 30 days – we try to do that with any new law – to try to educate people on the new requirements.”

Under a law passed last year, the deadline for moped riders to register their low-gas-mileage mode of transportation – and stick a plate on it – expired July 1. The cost of registration is $18, plus fees.

But Mecimore said the Chapel Hill Police will not start cracking down yet.

“We’ll be giving some time,” said Mecimore. “That doesn’t mean you won’t get stopped if you’re driving one without a tag, because that may be our educational opportunity.”

While moped owners may not universally love the new law, Mecimore said there’s an upside for them, in terms of law enforcement.

“We have a fairly sizable number of mopeds that get stolen each year,” said Mecimore. “And I think our hope is that this new requirement is going to give us better information on mopeds’ serial numbers, and will, hopefully, help us, if things get stolen, to be able to recover them.”

Getting a tag requires a trip to the DMV with proof of ownership, and a vehicle identification number or serial number to provide.

Starting next July, moped users will also need to be insured – a much pricier requirement, especially for those with poor driving records.

Carrboro Police to Conduct Own Review of Racial Profiling Report

The Carrboro Police Department has hired a consultant to review a 2014 report that found evidence of racial bias in the department’s policing. Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton made the announcement at a public forum held Monday night.

Concerns about racial profiling in the Carrboro Police Department came to the fore after UNC-Chapel Hill professor Frank Baumgartner released a report last year showing that in Carrboro, black and Latino drivers were more likely than white drivers to be stopped and searched. The police department held a forum to discuss racial profiling last fall. Chief Horton says the department has taken several recommendations that came out of last year’s forum, including racial equity training.

“We have sent all our officers to seek training,” Horton said. “We have trained all our officers since then. We will periodically do that training over, and all new officers that come in will receive that training.”

But Horton says his department saw a few red flags suggesting some of the data Baumgartner analyzed may not have been compiled correctly. The department has hired North Carolina Central University professor Deborah Weisel to help review the department’s data and the Baumgartner report for errors.

“If we got a problem, we got a problem,” Horton said. “Whether it’s your data or Dr. Weisel’s data. And we’ll do what we can to fix it. That’s the bottom line. If there is an issue, which you say there is. We just want to make sure.”

Baumgartner, who was at the forum, says even if there are minor errors, he believes the overall conclusion of the report is accurate and also consistent with trends across the state and the nation.

“I understand that it makes anyone in the position of authority uncomfortable to have these numbers put in front of them because they seem to suggest a responsibility and a problem,” Baumgartner said. “But what I would just ask and plead for on behalf of everybody is, please don’t feel defensive about it. Carrboro is not the only agency with racial disparities in traffic stops and people who get searched. It’s a nation-wide issue.”

Community members attending the forum had many ideas for improving the fairness of policing in Carrboro. The creation of a civilian-led advisory board to oversee the department was one idea that got a lot of discussion—and a lot of push-back from police officers, like officer David Deshaies.

“It quite frankly terrifies that someone taking a 40-hour class is going to make decisions sitting in an air-conditioned room on whether I keep my job or not,” Deshaies said. “They’ve never been there, they’ve never even done a ride-a-long, ridden for one shift, even a few hours of one shift, to see what happens and what it looks like from the seat of that car.”

Town Alderman Sammy Slade signaled interest in discussing the idea at future town meetings.

“I think there’s a lot of rich exploration and a good conversation that could come about from engaging in that kind of discussion,” he said.

Chief Horton says his department will take time to consider the recommendations made in the forum, but that many suggestions require staffing and resources the department doesn’t have.