Department Diversity: CMPD Chief’s Stretch Goal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – At a community forum a few weeks ago, Mayor Jennifer Roberts told the audience that CMPD Chief Kerr Putney was aiming for 40% diversity in the department. “Actually, the goal is 45%, because we are trying to get as close as we can to the general makeup of the city,” says Putney.

Chief sat down with WCCB News @ Ten anchor Morgan Fogarty at headquarters for a candid talk about that 45% “stretch goal,” as he puts it. “That’s a goal we’re struggling with, because generally we stand around 17 – 18 % for blacks and less than 5 % for Latinos,” he says.

The department focuses on college and military recruiting, as well as high school, to get people interested at an earlier age. But, there is no sugar coating that working as a police officer right now, right here is tough. Putney says, “I just tell them the truth. I’m genuine. I tell them it is pretty difficult. But if you wanna sacrifice for something greater than yourself, if you really wanna serve your community in a way that’s very meaningful, this could be the profession for you.”

Perhaps Putney’s candor resonates. CMPD says in fiscal year 2015, they had 1,128 applicants. In fiscal year 2016, they had 3,118. The department says the total number of women and minority applicants also increased, from 729 in FY2015 to 2,020 in FY2016.

And here’s an even closer look at department diversity: from the 2016 pool of applicants, 67 white men were hired and 13 white women, 23 black men and 4 black women, 10 Hispanic men and 3 Hispanic women, 1 Asian man and 1 Native American man.

Putney says, “We’re doing a lot more intensive recruitment of women, because why would you ignore 50% of the population, it just doesn’t make any sense. Studies have shown that women communicate better.” And, “For me, the jury’s still out, but there is a lot of evidence that shows they have a more empathetic approach and in these times, that is absolutely necessary for our profession.”

Putney also tells WCCB the department is looking to more intentionally recruit LGBT applicants. He said, “We want men and women who want to come here and work. How you self-identify is a personal matter.”