The Charlotte Police Training Academy was packed with civilians Thursday night for CMPD’s ambassador training program. The Bridging the Difference initiative is a call to action from CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney for residents to actively contribute to the wellbeing, peace and stability of the City of Charlotte.
The hope is to have at least 1,500 ambassadors trained by the time the Republican National Convention arrives in Charlotte in 2020.
“This is bigger than the RNC. We’re going to be leaning on you, and we have work to do beyond 2020,” Putney said. “We’re planting seeds to keep our city safer and better.”
Mother of three and Charlotte resident Eryana Bailey showed up for the training. She wants to be able to bridge the gap between her community and the police department.
“What drew me in is that I’m very concerned about the gap between the community and CMPD,” Bailey said. “I’m here to learn what I can contribute to the conversation.”
The training module consists of three parts with a different focus on several topics, including de-escalation techniques, race, prejudice and stereotyping, and communication and conflict resolution.
Although there was some concern voiced from those gathered that they feel the country is incredibly divided along political lines, most of those speaking shared that participation and perspective are critical to bridging the gaps and creating mutual understanding within Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
“When I hear the different opinions in the room, we’re all on the same page,” Bailey said. “We want to be respected and heard.”
Bridging the Difference aims to bring various points of view together to discuss a range of tops related to public safety to bridge gaps and create mutual understating from different perspectives.
“People in my community are hurting because of distrust that has happened in the past with CMPD,” Bailey said. “This might be an opportunity to rebuild that trust.”
The Ambassador Program wants to see progress in thinking, discussions and understanding. The attendees are encouraged to have ongoing conversations and engagement about important issues in our city and community. The goal is to increase understanding and trust through a series of conversations about police, community relations and public safety.
“I’m definitely coming back for the next session,” Bailey said. “I’m very hopeful based on the conversations in the room.”
Those who complete the program may be asked to help facilitate future events, help mediate conversations that showcase different perspectives or work alongside CMPD during big events.
The nearly 100 of those gathered gave Chief Putney roaring applause when he said, “I’m blessed to have you in this arena. We need you. The city needs you.”
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