CHARLOTTE, N.C. While a room full of local business owners have a candid conversation with the chief of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, who opened up about safety, preventing terror attacks, and the moment he called the, "toughest time in his career".
Chief Kerr Putney was the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club meeting Tuesday afternoon. Putney spoke for a few minutes, and then opened the floor to questions, saying, "What's on your mind?"
Immediately, the members in the room began asking about preventing terror attacks, concerns about what's being done to keep the public safe at major events like Panthers games.
Putney says there is discussion underway right now about whether to do away with the "extraordinary event" designation, which allowed police more leeway to search people during large-scale events.
He says, no matter the decision, his top priority is keeping the community safe.
"I'm gonna do what it takes to make this city safe," Putney says. "I don't need an ordinance, I don't need a designation, I don't need a pat on the back or a handshake to do my job."
Putney's job has come with challenges over the past year.
He points to the officer-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, as a personal and professional challenge.
That shooting and the subsequent riots and fallout were the "toughest time in my career," Putney said.
But, Putney says, he's now optimistic about the future of the city.
"Charlotte has been knocked to its knees, but we're getting back up and we'll be stronger for the experience," he says.
The city still has a long way to go, particularly as violent crime spikes. Charlotte has had 38 murders so far this year, a 100 percent increase over the 19 in the city this time last year.
Putney says 80 percent of the homicides were the result of people who are settling small disputes with gunfire.
Members of the Rotary expressed that they feel safe, for the most part, when walking down Charlotte streets. But some expressed concern about the things they can't prevent.
One asked about the couple last week who reported they were raped and robbed while walking down an Uptown street.
Putney admitted we are not doing enough to prevent those kinds of crimes. But, he says, it's not just the police:
"There are some people who do heinous things repeatedly and I think Richard Prior said, 'that's why we make prisons.'"
Putney called for prison reform and stiffer penalties for repeat offenders.
He also challenged the people in the room to find their "own truth."
Putney says he best way the community can help the police better do their job is to get involved, and be informed.
He called on people to attend community events, and follow the police department's social media pages to help share information straight from the source.