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Charlotte police chief Putney retiring at end of year but returning in March for RNC

Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney will retire at the end of 2019 after 27 years with the department, but will return in March to work through the Republican National Convention, the city announced Monday.

The city didn’t provide a reason for the arrangement. Putney, who has spent his entire career in Charlotte with the last four years as chief, said in 2018 that he planned to stay as chief through the convention. The convention is in late August 2020.

“Chief Putney made a commitment to Charlotte to lead our security efforts during the RNC, and I know that is important to him,” City Manager Marcus Jones said in a statement. “Because of his experience with the city’s efforts for the DNC in 2012 and his involvement with the current RNC planning, I want him to return . . . while also helping Chief Putney meet his personal commitments.”

In an internal video announcing his retirement, Putney said there’s more work to do to prepare for the convention.

“We’re going to execute what we’ve started,” he said. “We’ve got to finish it.”

Jones said he plans to name an interim chief before Putney’s return, and a permanent chief after the convention.

He has been with the department since August 1992. Before he became chief in 2015, he served in other roles with the department, including deputy chief in 2007, according to the CMPD website. He also supervised officer training, communications and criminal investigations.

He is paid $220,000 a year, according to city records.

Entire career with CMPD

Putney replaced former Chief Rodney Monroe. In 2015, he was a favorite for the job when former City Manager Ron Carlee was vetting candidates, the Observer reported. That hiring process involved only internal candidates, the Observer reported. Putney, by then, had already spent 23 years in law enforcement — his entire career with only CMPD.

It’s humbling to come to the last chapter, the last year of my service here,” Putney said in the video to the department. “But I couldn’t be more proud of the work you’re doing. This community appreciates that work, they depend on that work. Keep it up.”

Last fall he told WBTV that he could retire before the convention “but I’ve decided I’m going to stay through it.”

“I don’t want to have any disruption in our leadership prior,” he said at the time. “I don’t think it would be good for the city and I don’t like leaving business undone.”

Council member Tariq Bokhari said the city will announce a leadership transition plan later this week for the next 11 months.

A lot of people don’t have the luxury of that kind of time,” he said.

In a press conference at Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Vi Lyles said she doesn’t have any concerns about the police department not having a permanent leader less than a year away from the Republican National Convention.

“We have a great bench of chiefs,” she said. “We will have an interim. ... I believe the Chief has put in place a plan that works for his department.”

The police department’s next leader will have to grapple with issues like use of force and de-escalation tactics, council member Braxton Winston said.

“How do we identify the type of leader that is not only going to carry those types of efforts on, but ramp them up to get to the next generation of what policing looks like here in Charlotte?” he said.

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