Charlotte’s Top Cop: “I Should Be Able To Get Rid Of People Who Shouldn’t Be On The Job”

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Pictures released for the first time Wednesday night show some of what Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers have dealt with lately. Chief Kerr Putney detailed some officer injuries, “Broken ankle. Hit in the head with bricks. Mild concussions. Burns to the face. Omentane had to get eight stitches, cuts to the face.”

Putney tells says that those officers inspire him. “All of them say the same thing, which is why I talked about being inspired by them. they’re ready to get back to work,” he says.

What that work looks like is changing perhaps faster than ever. Two CMPD policy changes in a matter of days: one, beefing up a directive that officers have a duty to stop a rogue officer, the other, to tell crowds about escape avenues before chemical agents are used after a widely criticized scene on Fourth Street in Uptown where police appear to trap and gas protesters.

Chief says, “It’s been tough. June 2nd was not an easy video to see. And immediately, the command staff, this is what never gets out there, the command staff made recommendations about how to do it better.” Said another way: while the 4th street act is under investigation by outside agencies, Putney says his own staff immediately knew that what happened that night shouldn’t have. He says, “I take solace in the fact that the people who made the decision want to be better and they’ve given us policy recommendations to do just that.”

Chief says he does support reform, like how police handle mental health calls, adjusting use of force policies, and de-escalation training. Another thing he says would help: giving the chief the power to fire bad cops. He says, “Without a doubt, yes. I think that would help. I get the point of a civil service board for hiring, promotion. I think when it comes to termination, though, I should be able to get rid of people who shouldn’t be on the job, and my job should be on the line and I should be held accountable for that. Right now, I’m being held accountable for things I cannot do. So that is yet another area of reform I would support.”

Fogarty also asked the chief whether he supports the Black Lives Matter movement and about systemic racism in policing. Look for that part of our conversation Thursday on WCCB News @ Ten.