Campaign Zero: Committee proposes changes to how CMPD serves search warrants

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Community members are leading a new push that would change how officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department serve search warrants.

The change is part of an ongoing police reform effort in Charlotte called Campaign Zero.

CMPD served about 400 search warrants in each of the past two years. Out of those warrants, fewer than half are called dynamic searches, which are when officers force their way into a home or apartment.

Dynamic searches can create controversy and put the community on edge, and some are saying police need to rethink how they are carried out.

Action NC’s Robert Dawkins said that dynamic searches have become a shared concern over the years.

“You go back and listen to our rap music,” Dawkins said. “It’s always something that’s been a trigger for us because we’re disproportionately served.”

Songs like Ice-T’s “6 in the Mornin’,” whose lyrics “Six in the morning, police at my door” reference police showing up to serve a warrant.

Dawkins is pushing for CMPD to revise its rules for serving search warrants as part of ongoing police reform under the Campaign Zero initiative.

Charlotte City Council’s Safe Communities Committee learned Tuesday about proposed changes to CMPD policies that could include the following:

  • Serving warrants only between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Officers no longer allowed to use flashbangs or other distraction devices.
  • Officers required to knock and then wait at least 30 seconds before going into a home.

According to Deputy Chief Stella Patterson, CMPD has already made some changes. The department has stopped serving no-knock warrants, like the one served in Louisville, Kentucky resulting in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. CMPD also requires that officers are uniformed and wearing body cameras on searches.

But Patterson said other proposed changes, like not serving search warrants overnight, are impractical to adopt.

“A situation, 3 o’clock in the morning, where we’re called out to a shooting,” Patterson said. “We don’t have time to wait on that warrant.”

The committee didn’t take any action on the proposed reforms Tuesday. CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings is set to meet with committee members next month to continue the discussion.