Do citizens' arrests happen only on TV?

Plus: The top news of the week: YMCA announces huge donation — Pat McCrory's Senate run — lawsuit at Myers Park Country Club — new arts funding plan takes shape

Today’s Charlotte Ledger is sponsored by AccruePartners:

Column: The police don’t need my help. But I’ve uncovered the truth about common Charlotte nuisances such as annoying ringtones and unwanted dog poop.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police say to call 9-1-1 if you’ve witnessed a crime instead of taking the law into your own hands. 3-1-1 is equally effective for reporting non-emergencies, such as neighbors shoving yard clippings down storm drains and leaving garbage cans out too long.

By Colleen Brannan

At my house, my family calls me “Crime Dog.” I’m always getting to the bottom of something, so we often joke about making a citizen’s arrest after witnessing something offensive like littering, loitering or a questionable parking job.

We’ll examine some of those low-grade infractions in a moment. I’ve watched enough “Law and Order,” “The Blacklist,” “48 Hours” and the occasional “Blue Bloods” to make me uniquely qualified to know a crime in progress when I see one. And I see them all over Charlotte. But first I need to know: Is a citizen’s arrest a real thing — or just made for TV?

North Carolina law allows private citizens to detain people suspected of certain serious offenses. But you can’t arrest them unless a law-enforcement officer has specifically asked for help. Detaining someone you suspect of a felony sounds dangerous, and the second scenario sounds highly unlikely (except on “Blue Bloods,” since the whole family is in law enforcement.)

CMPD says it has no great stories on citizens’ arrests or detentions: “No one in the department has any recent memory of a reported citizen’s arrest, despite the statute,” CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano told me. He added: “The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has 1,900 officers who serve the community. We strongly encourage anyone who witnesses a crime to call 9-1-1 and request the response of a police officer.”

Hmm. Sounds like they don’t need my help. Maybe they sensed my expertise in criminal justice came from the University of Netflix?

Discouraged, I put the handcuffs away and halted the sting operations I had planned. Instead, I swapped my community crusader cape for my investigative reporter hat and put some energy into researching if the following acts, which offend and annoy me, were actual crimes. I’m no Joe Bruno, but I do OK.

Here’s what I found and turned into a little game called CRIME or CRINGY:

1. Leaving pet droppings in someone’s yard.

  • Ruling: CRIME! According to 311, there is a city ordinance against this that can result in fines from $50-$500. You have to file a complaint, and then Animal Care & Control will investigate. Most states have “pooper scooper laws,” and poop-shaming for those who don’t comply has become a thing. An Australian woman posted a two-page sign outside her townhouse saying: “If you don’t pick up after your dog, you will be filmed, shown and shamed.”

2. Excessive bumper decals including the sticker family and/or “My child was caught doing something good.”

  • Ruling: CRINGY — not to mention making you a target for teen vandals and affecting the resale value of your vehicle.

3. Leaving your garbage and recycling containers curbside for an extended period of time.

  • Ruling: CRIME! You must remove them by midnight on collection day or be subject to a $50 fine. Similarly, you can put them out only one day prior to pickup. Storing rollout containers in front of your house can lead to a $25 fine. Don’t give your neighbors a reason to report you.

4. Traveling in the Cotswold Chick-fil-A turn lane when you aren’t going to Chick-fil-A.

  • Ruling: NEITHER. We’ll call them lost or new to the neighborhood, but I’ll bet they won’t do that again.

5. Shoving yard clippings down the storm drain.

  • Ruling: CRIME! My neighbor kept doing it and was reported to Storm Water Services. They came out, gave him a warning and followed up with a letter giving him notice it would be a $5,000 fine per incident for future pollution of storm drains.

6. Leaving onions on my Viva Chicken Inca wrap after I made the extra phone call on top of an online order.

  • Ruling: CRINGY, but the friendly manager apologized profusely and gave me a gift card to come back!

7. Letting Fido ride in your lap.

  • Ruling: CRIME! and subject to a $100 fine plus court costs. It’s just another form of distracted driving that is dangerous to you and your pet.

8. Parents asking kids to lie about their age at “kids eat free night.”

  • Ruling: CRINGY, and particularly rewarding to watch when the kid tells the server the truth.

9. Food service worker, at a neighborhood grocery store, wearing mask around chin and coughing on sub being made.

10.  Letting your phone ring loudly at a high school soccer game, with a custom ring tone, then taking the call.

  • Ruling: CRINGY. My personal favorite ringtones: screeching seagulls and “Whoomp! There It Is.”

Armed with this new information, I’ve decided to shelve my citizen’s arrest dreams for now and stick to solving perceived crimes in my little corner of the world. Speaking of, I found out people caught parking in courtesy veteran and expectant mother spaces at grocery stores aren’t actually fined. They are subject only to stares, social stigma and shame. Not a very satisfying verdict, but that’s another case closed.

Colleen Brannan, owner of BRANSTORM PR, can be found watching “48 Hours” on Saturday nights and claims she always knows “whodunit” in the first five minutes of a two-hour show. (PRO TIP: Always start with the spouse.) She welcomes more followers on Instagram (Colleen_Brannan), Twitter (@colleenbrannan) and LinkedIn but vows never to join Facebook. Send fan mail to

Today’s supporting sponsor is Soni Brendle:

This week in Charlotte: CMS graduations are a go; ‘Bob & Sheri’ dropped from Charlotte airwaves; banks profits soar; McCrory announces Senate run

On Saturdays, The Ledger sifts through the local news of the week and links to the top articles — even if they appeared somewhere else. We’ll help you get caught up. That’s what Saturdays are for.


  • McCrory running for Senate: (WFAE) Former N.C. governor and longtime Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory says he’s running for the U.S. Senate. The race for the seat of the retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr is expected to be one of the most closely watched contests of 2022. McCrory is thought to be an early frontrunner. On the Republican side, he’ll face former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and perhaps a few others who have yet to announce their candidacies. On the Democratic side, candidates include N.C. Sen. Jeff Jackson and former Sen. Erica Smith.

  • Harris to visit NC: (News and Observer) Vice President Kamala Harris is visiting North Carolina on Monday, making stops in Greensboro and High Point to advocate for The American Jobs Plan.


  • Pomp and circumstance: (WBTV) Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will hold in-person graduation ceremonies this year, with graduates limited to two guests apiece. The graduations will be held at Bojangles Coliseum, Ovens Auditorium and the Charlotte Convention Center.

  • New name for Barringer: (Q City Metro) The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board voted to rename Barringer Academic Center in honor of Charles H. Parker, a man born into slavery who went on to become a community activist. Barringer, which had been named for a family steeped in white supremacy, will be the second CMS school to be renamed after the board voted in October to to rename Vance High School after civil rights attorney Julius L. Chambers.

Local news

  • YMCA windfall: (Ledger) The YMCA of Greater Charlotte received $18M from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, which Y leaders said say they plan to use to address upward mobility, with a focus on health and nutrition programs and programs for youth and teens in underserved communities.  It’s the largest donation in the organization’s history, in a year that revenue dropped 40% because of Covid.

  • “Bob & Sheri” dumped from longtime home: The “Bob & Sheri” show is being dropped from 107.9 “The Link” after 30 years, effective April 30, The Observer reported (subscriber-only). It’s in syndication in 70 other markets but will look for a new Charlotte home. The Ledger on Wednesday (🔒) looked into the station’s new owner — it’s a media conglomerate that also acquired WBT-AM (1110) and WFNZ-AM (610) late last year. It owns mostly urban-format stations across the country and is now the #3 owner of stations in Charlotte, behind iHeartMedia and Beasley Media Group.


  • Banks make out like bandits in 1Q: (Ledger 🔒) It was a strong start of the year for several major banks. Bank of America’s profits doubled to $8B, Wells Fargo made $4.74B, compared to $653M a year earlier, and Truist’s profits rose to $1.3B, a 35% increase.

  • Amazon expansion: (Biz Journal) Amazon plans to build three new facilities in the Charlotte area — a fulfillment center in Pineville and two delivery stations in Charlotte. The 1 million s.f. fulfillment center will be at Carolina Logistics Park, a large industrial park being developed by Beacon Partners. The delivery stations will be on Old Statesville Road in north and on Beam Road in west Charlotte.

  • New apartment tower? (Ledger 🔒) A major South End developer has a drawing and details of a new 25-story luxury apartment tower on its website.

  • More trouble for EpiCentre: (Biz Journal) An $85 million property loan on the uptown EpiCentre has been sent to special servicing agency after the borrower, landlord CIM Group, failed to pay off the March and April mortgages in full and announced it would not be covering the shortfall.


  • Injuries continue to decimate the Hornets: (Observer) The Charlotte Hornets were down several more players during Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. The Hornets were once as high as fourth in the Eastern Conference before a slew of injuries removed four out of five starters and several bench contributors, including LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Malik Monk, PJ Washington and Terry Rozier.

  • Davidson back in playoffs after 52 years: (Observer) The Davidson Wildcats football team is postseason-bound for the first time since 1969, securing an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs after winning the Pioneer League due to an opponent’s Covid-related forfeit. The college put a video on social media of the team finding out and celebrating.

Good reads

  • Rolfe Neill’s legacy: (Business NC) Former Charlotte Observer executive editor Rick Thames writes a thoughtful profile of Rolfe Neill, the former Observer publisher who played a key role in bringing Charlotte into prominence from the 1970s through the 1990s.

  • Big cars are king: (Ledger) If it seems like SUVs, trucks and vans are outnumbering sedans and wagons on the road these days, that’s exactly what’s happening. Charlotte writer Ely Portillo analyzed local vehicle registration data and found that SUVs, trucks and vans now outnumber sedans by a narrow 51% to 49% edge. “We’re putting lots of effort into becoming a city that doesn’t require you to get in your car for every trip at the same time our cars are all getting super-sized. The bigger our vehicles get, the more space they take up, in our driveways, on our roads, in parking decks packed along our light rail, and in our minds,” Portillo writes.

  • NC boy’s act of kindness goes viral: (Observer) Local 14-year-old baseball talent and die-hard Philadelphia Phillies fan Joshua Scott was prepared to catch Freddie Freeman’s home run ball and throw it back onto the field at a Braves-Phillies game in Atlanta. When he didn’t catch it, he changed his plan, instead giving it to a Braves fan sitting a few rows behind him. The act of kindness garnered nationwide attention and landed him appearances on several national sports networks.

Ledger originals

  • Renovation controversy at Myers Park Country Club: (Wednesday 🔒) The plan for a $27M renovation of one of Charlotte’s oldest and most prestigious country clubs is hitting a wave of opposition, with some members objecting to a proposed expansion of the men’s-only areas into a popular coed dining space. Others don’t like the $9,500-per-member assessment for the renovations, and a former U.S. ambassador has filed a lawsuit to force the club’s leadership to hand over financial information about the plans.

  • The rise and decline of ASC: (Friday 🔒) As Charlotte city leaders craft a plan to give public and private dollars directly to arts groups instead of routing funding through the Arts & Science Council, The Ledger looks back on the history of the ASC to learn why the model that brought in so much money for the arts for decades was not sustainable.

  • South Charlotte street filled with pro athletes: (Monday) Former Carolina Panthers teammates Greg Olsen and Jonathan Stewart have bought million-dollar houses along Carmel Country Club’s golf course, with plans to tear them down and build new. The lots are on Parview Drive, off Rea Road in south Charlotte, and are on the same street as Charlotte Hornets star Gordon Hayward and former pro basketball players Matt Carroll and Eric Leckner.

  • Dramatic rescue: (Friday 🔒): Former Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Wheeler recounts her harrowing experience last summer, when she fell in her Myers Park home and was unable to move for three days. But she was rescued by paramedics after former Charlotte Chamber CEO Bob Morgan stopped by to check on her when she didn’t return phone calls. “I’d say it’s a miracle,” Wheeler told us.

  • Hotel plans still bubbling: (Wednesday 🔒) An announcement is expected in a month or two about the fate of an uptown site that was supposed to be a new hotel but has been put on hold. This is part of a regular series in which we answer reader questions about Charlotte development.

  • March rezonings 🔥 : (Wednesday 🔒) Who wants the lowdown on what developers are planning in Charlotte and where? We’ve got all of March’s rezoning applications with details on plans for apartments, townhouses, warehouses, mixed-use developments and what’s up with the Carolina Pavilion Chick-fil-A.

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Executive editorTony MeciaManaging editorCristina BollingContributing editor: Tim Whitmire, CXN AdvisoryReporting intern: David Griffith