Charlotte’s elected leaders discussed Monday night the “action plan” they approved in the wake of the Keith Lamont Scott shooting and civil unrest from September.
City Council on Oct. 3 said it would focus on three areas: police accountability, housing and jobs.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the biggest concern from protesters and concerned citizens is whether Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are treating minorities fairly.
The city plans to have an outside organization, the Washington, D.C.-based Police Foundation, review CMPD procedures. Council members are scheduled later this month to vote on that contract, which could cost as much as $300,000. The review could take between five and seven months.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said he hopes a nine- or 10-member community board can help CMPD implement any of the foundation’s recommendations.
“The whole point is that it has to be specific to Charlotte and to be inclusive,” Putney said.
Putney also said he would recommend that the Citizens Review Board have subpoena power. The CRB is a citizen-led group that reviews police shootings, but critics have said it has little power.
“We have heard loud and clearly about their lack of power,” he said.
In the two weeks after the shooting, there was a split between Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who had called for more transparency from the city, and council members, who were less critical.
Before Monday’s discussion, Roberts tried to put that split to rest.
“We are not divided,” Roberts said.
Council members also discussed a plan to build more affordable housing. The city’s previous goal was to build 5,000 affordable units in five years; after the Scott shooting, the new goal is to build 5,000 units in three years.
Through September of this year, the city has helped fund 185 new units. But the city is counting other housing improvements, such as rehabilitating old houses and apartments, and giving residents financial help for down-payments. When those other programs are included, the city has built, improved or given financial assistance to just under 700 units.
Pam Wideman, who leads the city’s housing efforts, said the city will hire a consultant to give advice on building more housing.
Democrat Patsy Kinsey said she believes the city is doing better at building so-called “workforce housing” for people earning 80 percent of the area median income. But she said the city needs to focus more on people who are much poorer.
Willie Ratchford, who leads the city’s community relations office, said the city has reached out to groups such as the NAACP, Charlotte Uprising and the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice. He said the city wants to hear from others in the community, and to hear whether there are other issues they should discuss.
He said the city wants to hold several meetings throughout the city in early 2017.
“This won’t be a typical town hall meeting,” he said. “We actually want to hear from you.”
Democratic council member LaWana Mayfield said she’s concerned the city is going to hear from many of the same groups and organizations that it’s traditionally heard from in the past.
“We have to have a different voice at the table,” she said.
Republican council member Ed Driggs questioned whether a series of city forums could solve what he said are historical problems in the African-American community.
“I don’t think it’s within the power of the city to fix them,” Driggs said.
A group of about 30 citizen activists attended Monday’s workshop. Unlike the council meeting after the Scott shooting in which protesters assailed council members, most people attending Monday were subdued.
However, at the end of the meeting, several people left the meeting room with their hands up in protest. One person shouted at Roberts: “When will you resign?”