EDITOR’S NOTE: On Thursday, CMPD Assistant Chief Vicki Foster reached out to us through Facebook to provide additional context about her upcoming birthday party on NBA All-Star Weekend. We have edited the story to reflect her comments. Per CMPD policy, we communicated directly with the agency’s public information officer Tuesday and Wednesday in gathering for this story and our crew attended the chief’s weekly news conference where he answered questions about the upcoming party.
With the NBA All-Star Game now less than a month away, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) has canceled all days off for officers, so they can work during the event, but some think there's a double-standard.
We've learned one of the assistant chiefs has a birthday party planned during All-Star Weekend. The invite calls Vicki Foster's birthday bash "The Real Five-O Day Party."
It said the party will be held at a club at the Music Factory, complete with music, a film and television star host, and appearances from former NBA players.
During Wednesday's weekly CMPD press conference, Chief Kerr Putney addressed officers' concerns about the party.
"People's time off is their time off," he said. "I don't see where someone's birthday party is newsworthy for me to really address. If our officers have issues with their schedule, be adults and talk to me about it."
While rank and file officers won't be able to take days off during All-Star Weekend, the police chief said a person's assignment occasionally allows for more flexibility.
"Your responsibility sometimes equates to your rank," he said. "I know I will not be directing traffic during the NBA All-Star game. I know I'll be working long hours though."
Foster, CMPD's assistant chief over support services, appears to have some of that flexibility, and Chief Kerr Putney is not apologizing for it.
"I'm not going to tell people they can't celebrate a birthday if it doesn't impact the work that they should be doing," he said. "If it were somebody who's specifically assigned to a specific critical function it'd be a different issue, that's not the case."
The chief said CMPD accommodates many officers throughout the year, and if a person wants to celebrate a birthday milestone, he wants his officers to talk to him directly.
Despite canceling days off during All-Star Weekend, the chief said the hope is to allow officers to have at least one day off in the middle.
Statement from Vicki Foster:
We accommodate people all the time. If someone has a paid for vacation they planned 2 years ago as I did my milestone birthday do you think we don’t accommodate them? Do you really think no one has ever been granted time off due to any circumstance after we limit days.? We all know why this is a story but I will refrain. This event was advertised because it is Allstar weekend and as every club is doing the owner is a business man and he set the price based on the weekend and the talent and legends who are coming which has nothing to do with me. I’ve waited 50 years to celebrate my milestone and when it was planned Allstar was not going to be here. I’m blessed to have people who say we will have it for you. Most of my family have waited for this day can’t even attend as they can’t afford flights and hotels due to the Allstar. Like everyone else I’ve missed countless family gatherings, birthdays etc after 28 plus years of service. You and no one else care about when I’m working 19 hour days during the riots, going to homicides in this city 4 years at all times of the night, the countless panels and after hour events, CMPD HOPE an organization I founded to assist officers and civilians who can’t pay their bills. Where are those stories? This isn’t about a double standard as this story is. If the one thing I get out of 28 YEARS of dedicated full time service is to celebrate my once in my life day and it makes news then we have larger issues and trust me we do.