CMPD Chief, Community Activist Discuss Police Relations

CHARLOTTE, NC – CMPD Chief Kerr Putney and two community activists sat down for a candid conversation Friday that touched on race, trust, brutality and justice.

The talk comes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer.

“It’s disgusting. It’s cowardly. There is no justification,” said Chief Kerr Putney.

Putney shared his frustrations in a Facebook forum with community activists.

“The behavior of one person basically going rouge puts us all in jeopardy. It makes our jobs in this profession a lot harder,” said Putney.

The nearly hour-long conversation went beyond Floyd’s death.

“There are a lot of things that need to change for us to move forward, but I think everybody needs to be honest about what the real problems are,” said Kass Ottley, a community activist.

Ottley says laws need to be changed, oversight and accountability increased, and trust built between the police and communities they patrol.

“How many times can you address the same issue and see nothing change,” said Ottley.

Chief Putney says they’ve fired officers who’ve demonstrated behavior issues and do rigorous training to make sure force is used appropriately and not influenced by implicit bias.

“We’re doing a lot of training to get you comfortable with people who are different than you so that that decision isn’t based on anything else,” said Putney.

The trio also discussed the response in Minneapolis. The protests and property destruction.

“I can’t tell people to don’t do that or don’t feel that way,” said Ottley.

Greg Jackson, the founder of Heal Charlotte says the riots are from built-up anger and frustration with a flawed system.

“You have to remember that they ain’t mad at one situation,” said Jackson, “It’s systematic change that needs to happen.”

While Chief Putney worries the destruction will take away from the core issue, he says changes in individuals can lead to progress.

“We’re not going to stamp out racism in America in my lifetime. But what we can do is fight with everything we have for a unified front,” said Putney.