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Chief Putney fielding questions surrounding community concerns

News & Views

Opinion: We Need a New Chief

One we can trust

Photo credit: Brian Twitty

One we can trust

Wednesday night, I attended a community forum at Little Rock AME Zion Church in which CMPD Chief Kerr Putney took both questions and heated commentary from Charlotte citizens. This was the third townhall-style event related to the shooting death of Danquirs Franklin by Officer Wende Kerl.

These conversations are a great look, PR-wise. He appears to be focused on transparency, answering any question that comes his way, no matter how uncomfortable. More than once in these forums, he’s stressed the importance of police building trust with the community.

Yet, the following day, The Charlotte Observer reported that when CMPD released video from Officer Kerl’s body camera (as mandated by a court order), they omitted almost nine minutes of footage. Footage that was shown to the mayor and city council. Footage which reportedly shows medical aid not being rendered until almost the nine minute mark, despite the fact CMPD officers are trained, certified and authorized to take such measures. Footage that City Councilman Braxton Winston told the Observer shows Officer Kerl explaining she shot Franklin because he had a weapon – and possibly not because she felt her life was immediately threatened.

We cannot cut any slack for a police chief who acknowledges the need to build trust with the community, then shows the exact opposite by only showing the public part of the story. We cannot abide a chief who won’t immediately fire an officer more worried about pleading her case to her colleagues than tending to a dying man as she’s trained to do. And we cannot abide a chief who will not hold his officers criminally accountable when they shoot citizens who don’t pose a threat to their lives.

Chief Putney told the audience Wednesday night that he was the chief investigator in the Jonathan Ferrell shooting and he was the one who made the recommendation to then-Police Chief Rodney Monroe that former Officer Randall Kerrick be prosecuted. Kerrick was arrested less than 24 hours later. We need that Kerr Putney back or we need a new chief.

We understand a new chief is not the total solution to ending unwarranted deaths at the hands of police, but accountability is a major component, and we have to start somewhere.

Editor’s Notes: Erin Tracy-Blackwood contributed to this article. Image used was taken at a separate event.

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