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Spokeswoman loses post in police changes

New Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Rodney Monroe announced a reorganization of the department's public affairs office Wednesday, eliminating the top spot and giving the director a month to find a new job.

Julie Hill, the voice of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for more than two years and a bigger force behind the scenes, is the most prominent departure so far in Monroe's two-and-a-half-month tenure.

Hill was one of the highest-paid members of the department – she made more than $112,000 annually, more than three of the department's four deputy chiefs.

She was often the department's face on TV and its voice in the newspaper during big events such as a pair of shootings of officers last year or a public forum in the wake of a fatal police shooting earlier this year. In addition to dealing with the media, she played a large role in the look and content of the department's Web site. She transferred from the city of Charlotte's public affairs office more than two years ago.

A short e-mail that circulated around the department didn't mention Hill by name, but said Monroe was “reorganizing the office of public affairs and realigning functions performed by the director of Public Affairs which will therefore eliminate the position.”

The department didn't provide details on the reorganization or say why Monroe eliminated Hill's position without having a complete mechanism in place for dealing with public and media inquiries.

Unanswered by the department was whether there was some aspect of Hill's performance that gave Monroe pause. A few weeks ago, Monroe announced a reorganization of the department. But even when entire units were eliminated, the department redeployed officers into other segments of the police department.

Hill did not return a call seeking comment.

Deputy Chief Kerr Putney said that all areas of the department have seen changes.

“The chief was pretty clear that we're going to critically look at how we do business,” he said. “And that includes how we relate and communicate with the public, and a piece of that includes the media as well.”

The city of Charlotte's public affairs office may aid in some requests to police from the public, said Kim McMillan, a spokeswoman for the city.

Monroe plans to meet with the city's public affairs office after he returns from vacation this week, she said.

But she and Putney said the city may know more of Monroe's plan for public affairs in a month or so.

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