Charlotte City Council passes civil rights vision

The Charlotte City Council passed a broad policy statement Monday night that prohibits Charlotte-Mecklenburg police from profiling and enforcing federal immigration laws, while at the same time “embracing principles relating to civil rights.”

Council members authorized the city to create a resolution or ordinance that further addresses the issue.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe has embraced what could be described as a vision statement, though he said his department already has policies in place that prohibit profiling and that protect civil rights.

Monroe told council members Monday that, as a result of the vote, the police will create a system in which residents can make a formal complaint about profiling. He said CMPD currently doesn’t track such complaints.

“We need a way for a citizen to file a profiling complaint,” Monroe said.

State Rep. Rodney Moore, a Charlotte Democrat, said he plans to introduce statewide legislation to prohibit profiling among all N.C. police departments. The city has embraced Moore’s vision.

The city’s motion does the following:

• Acknowledges the role the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department plays in the application of fair and equal justice under the Constitution and the Police Department’s desire to serve all and to continue to foster and maintain public trust with all members of our community;

•  Addresses issues related to civil rights, including arbitrary profiling; First Amendment rights; infiltrating and monitoring of groups; the gathering, dissemination, and retention of data and information; the enforcement of federal immigration laws; and the importance of transparency and accountability for maintaining public trust and confidence in law enforcement.

The city isn’t sure whether it will bring forward a resolution or ordinance that further addresses the issues.

City Attorney Bob Hagemann said one problem with an ordinance is that the city, if found to be in violation, can’t fine itself.

City Manager Ron Carlee said the city is studying the issue further.

“We didn’t want to have unintended consequences,” Carlee said.

He added: “This is not intended to be a feel-good activity.”