CMPD deploys 'Constructive Conversation Team'

Police are preparing for the possibility of more protests around uptown Charlotte Thursday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wednesday night when demonstrators took to the streets in Charlotte to protest, they were met, not by stone-faced officers in body armor, but rather by officers who wanted to not only talk to the demonstrators but listen to what they were saying.

The demonstration followed the release of the decision by the District Attorney not to file charges against a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer who shot and killed Keith Scott outside Scott's apartment complex in September.

The new team of 14 officers was deployed for the first time to try to talk to demonstrators and keep everyone safe.

"It's just human nature to want to be informed," said team member, Sgt Chris Kopp.

"A lot of these individuals just want to be informed. They don't have answers but have tons of questions," Kopp said.

Back in September, beginning the night Scott was killed, demonstrators took to the streets, and in some cases, there were fires set and there was some looting.

During Wednesday night's demonstration, things were different.

"Did things go well?"

"Yes. We didn't have property damage and didn't have any injuries," said Lt. Zeru Chickoree.

Sgt Kopp said once the demonstrators had let off some steam, many were ready to talk to officers.

"We were able to engage a number of people in all kinds of conversations, whether it was police-related or not," he said.

There were four arrests, all for going into the street, far fewer and far less serious than arrests made in September when the National Guard finally had to be called in to restore order.

Officers faced insults and rude gestures and sometimes more than that, so selecting members of the team is done carefully.

Said Lt. Chickoree, "We hand select them to make sure we have officers who can take a lot of verbal abuse, and we got that last night."

The team will be deployed again if demonstrations resume.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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