Former CMPD Chief Reflects on Officers’ Legacies

Chief Darrel Stephens was the man in charge the night officers Clark and Shelton were killed.

CHARLOTTE, NC — The man in charge of CMPD when officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark were murdered says he thinks about them often. Will Kennedy sat down with Chief Darrel Stephens.

Darrel Stephens spent almost nine years as chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He was the man in charge the night officers Clark and Shelton were killed. A tragedy he still lives with.

“I’ve never gone back to the area where the shootings actually took place,” Stephens told me.

Stephens hasn’t been back to the scene of the shootings since the immediate hours that followed; when he was trying to help his department, the officers’ families and the community deal with the shock and disbelief left behind.

“People had a difficult time understanding how Jeff and Sean could have been surprised in the way they did,” recalls Stephens. “Reminded everyone in the department, reminded officers, that in spite of all of the things that you do that potential of being confronted, or losing your life, is very much a part of policing.”

Stephens is still involved in education and training for law enforcement officers, even in retirement. He says Shelton and Clark had an impact in that area.

“We do use situational training, and those situations and scenarios change from time to time,” says Stephens. “A lot of conversation first couple of years after that happened.”

Stephens still lives in Charlotte. He is the executive director of the Major City Chiefs Association; focusing on legislative work, training, education and leadership work in law enforcement.