CMPD talks race relations after shootings

Charlotte City Council and CMPD Chief Putney held a community safety meeting as officials work with citizens to earn their trust.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The conversation on how Charlotte can improve race relations and rebuild trust between its citizens and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department continued Thursday.

At the Community Safety Committee Meeting held Thursday afternoon, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney presented a plan which detailed ways he and the city would work to improve policies within the department.

The announcement of the new plan stems from years of racial and social injustice, recently pushed over the edge with the police shooting death of Keith Scott. Many of the requests for change came over the last several weeks from members of the NAACP’s Charlotte Chapter, the SAFE Coalition of North Carolina and other community activists.

The police chief’s plan includes three main areas for improvement: training, cultural proficiency education and body-worn cameras.

Specifically, Chief Putney said ongoing CMPD training will focus on crisis intervention and de-escalation.

hen it comes to cultural education, Chief Putney said the department will create closer partnerships with the group Racial Matters for Juvenile Justice and others like Jennifer P. David and Associates, LLC and Dr. Melvin Herring from Johnson C. Smith University.

Chief Putney said the use of body-worm cameras was implemented in 2015, but that more and newer equipment is needed. He also addressed bodycam policies, saying CPMD requires officers to activate their cameras at the start of a situation or traffic stop. He says officers who do not will face repercussions.

Other goals include implementing President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Recommendations and rebuilding trust between officers and the communities in which they serve. One way they might do that is by giving the Charlotte Citizens Review Board the power to subpoena.

“I think that what Chief Putney said today was a beginning in terms of listening and trying to apply some of the policies that we had asked for,” said Corrine Mack, President of the NAACP’s Charlotte Chapter.

“We’re all on the same page, now we can all move forward,” she said.

CMPD and the NAACP are both on the same page about what needs to be done at the city level but are also in agreeance on how the community can do their part.

“In encounters, as long as we can communicate and get people to comply, we increase our ability to have positive outcomes tremendously,” said Chief Putney.

He said going forward, Charlotte residents will likely hear the phrase, “Communicate, Comply, De-escalate.”

Something Mack agrees with.

“It’s important that we all as citizens of Charlotte take responsibility for our own actions. We’re all accountable for how things go, right?” she said.

Chief Putney’s new plan is expected to go to City Council this December for vote. If approved, the new policies will go into effect July 2017.

But council members told NBC Charlotte that many of the changes requested by community activists were out of their jurisdiction. They say to achieve the greatest amount of change, they encourage Charlotte residents to also reach out to the state legislature.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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