Police Chief Kerr Putney interview
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Wednesday it invited a Washington foundation to review its policies and procedures in the wake of a fatal police shooting that triggered violent protests in the city.
CMPD also asked the Police Foundation to review its relationship with the community prior to last month.
On Sept. 20, police killed a black man, Keith Lamont Scott, in a northeast Charlotte apartment parking lot. The officer who shot him also was black.
Police said they saw Scott armed with a handgun when he exited his vehicle, although Scott’s family has insisted that Scott was not armed and did not pose a threat to the officers.
One man was shot to death during one of the protests that roiled Charlotte in the aftermath of Scott’s death and thrust the city into an international spotlight surrounding the death of another African-American man at the hands of the police.
“It’s time not only to start healing but to get to work on finding solutions that maintain and build trust between our officers and our community,” CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said in a statement announcing the review.
“We are open to making changes in how we do business. But I will not make impulsive decisions in response to demands,” Putney said.
In an interview, Putney told the Observer that he’s aware of no similar request having been made by CMPD in the past. However, he said, the department has been accredited since 2005 by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, “and a part of that is an external assessment of our policies and procedures to talk about best practices and see how we compare to best practices.” CMPD undergoes the assessment every three years, he said.
CMPD said the foundation’s work will include input from “a diverse group of community members” and will result in recommendations. The foundation’s work will be influenced by and shared with the community, according to CMPD.
The Police Foundation’s work could take six to eight months, “depending on the complexity and what all they’re looking to assess,” Putney told the Observer.
Putney said that in the short-term, he is committed to:
▪ Solidifying and making public the department’s procedure for releasing body worn camera footage, so there is a consistent and transparent process moving forward.
▪ Continuing to make preparations to equip tactical officers with body worn cameras. Patrol officers and tactical officers will wear body worn cameras both while working on- and off-duty assignments, as soon as additional cameras are purchased and officers are trained.
▪ Continuing to discuss the possibility of subpoena powers for the Citizens Review Board with its External Advisory Committee. This change would require legislative action.
▪ Reviewing policies, procedures and training related to de-escalation techniques.
Staff Writer Joe Marusak contributed.