'Humbled and eager’: City of Charlotte names newest CMPD Chief of Police

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city of Charlotte has named Deputy Chief Johnny Jennings as the newest Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief of Police.

Jennings is currently a CMPD Deputy Chief overseeing the Support Services group, including the Community Services Bureau. He will take over the role once Chief Kerr Putney retires after the Republican National Convention scheduled for August 24-27.

Jennings has been with CMPD since 1992 and was promoted to Deputy Chief in 2016.

During his service with CMPD, Jennings has held several leadership roles in the department including as the commanding officer for the Administrative Services Group, Special Services Group, Support Services Group and the Field Services Group. He also served as a major over Intelligence, Investigations, Special Operations, Office of Professional Responsibility.

“I have had the privilege of observing and experiencing the growth of our city and the department. We have been resilient in managing some of the most challenging experiences and growing from them,” Jennings said. "We will continue to face challenges as the city continues to grow and evolve. I’m humbled to be the next police chief and lead the CMPD during these times.

Jennings said he wants to be known as the best police chief this department has ever seen, no offense to Chief Putney.

Putney praised Jennings for his leadership in community engagement and commitment to safety.

“He’s driven to succeed and make this city safer than anyone I’ve known,” Putney said. “To the city, we should be proud.”

He called Jennings, “a man with an unwavering commitment to professionalism, integrity and leadership.”

Mayor Vi Lyles said though she doesn’t want to see Putney leave, she is embracing the city’s newest chief.

“Charlotte has a history of hiring police chiefs who bring the perfect skill set needed at that time in our city’s development, and I believe we have done it again,” she said.

According to Lyles, an internal choice was the best fit for the department.

During his time with CMPD, Jennings developed and implemented CMPD’s paid college internship program to assist with recruitment and retention; leading planning and operations for major events such as the NBA All-Star game in 2019 and Billy Graham’s funeral in 2018; and lead intelligence and coordination efforts with federal, regional, state and local partners for the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

Jennings is well-known in the community as an advocate. He has led the department’s movement to get into the streets and get to know the people they serve.

“Jennings has a background in leading several community outreach programs, which makes him an ideal fit for growing our community policing initiatives and building public trust in our police department," Lyles said.

City Manager Marcus D. Jones said the department cast a wide net in its search for Putney’s replacement and the city struck gold with Jennings.

“Hiring the Chief of Police is one of the most important duties I have as City Manager. This position received interest from current police chiefs from across the country and they were drawn to this position because of the reputation that CMPD has,” Jones said. “As we went through this process it became very clear that Deputy Chief Jennings’ leadership with CMPD has been a key aspect of the department’s success. I’m excited to have him be our next police chief and continue his work for the Charlotte community.”

Jones said Jennings knows the police department and cares deeply for men and women who serve in it.

When asked what the priorities of his agenda are, Jennings said it was too soon to lay out his plans but said he will be focused on the men and women of CMPD. He said the department’s work depends on a good foundation.

Jennings was questioned about his commitment to Charlotte and whether he has looked for jobs in other places. He responded sharply.

“There’s no doubt, I’m 100% committed to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the city of Charlotte -- and there’s no doubt it’s the fit for me,” he said. “I’ve said all along that God has a plan and this is his plan for me, and I intend to take it and run with it.”

The new chief is set to step into his new role in September. In the meantime, he says he will continue to absorb everything he can from Putney.

Statement from the Fraternal Order of Police:

The Fraternal Order of Police would like to congratulate Johnny Jennings on his appointment to Chief of Police. We look forward to working with him in the future. We have had a very good relationship with him in his current role as Deputy Chief. He was always accommodating to meet and discuss issues involving our members, and we anticipate the same type of relationship. His leadership will be an asset to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and to the citizens of Charlotte. We wish him much success in his new role.