CMPD could train officers in customer service; police union not happy

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is paying a consultant $60,000 to train officers to improve their customer service.

“But unfortunately, we feel left aside -- or an afterthought,” said Yolian Ortiz with the Fraternal Order of Police.

The FOP is throwing cold water on the plan because officials with the organization said they were never consulted about it. FOP officials said they were brought in by CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings after the plan was made public.

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“That’s our main issue with this,” Ortiz said. “Obviously, if he works with us, we’re more than happy to have buy-in and have the officers work with him.”

The police department released a statement late Tuesday afternoon defending the approach.

“The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s development of a world-class customer service approach to policing is an investment that not only benefits our community but every member of the department,” the statement read. “The customer-service vision is being developed internally by a cross-section of the CMPD including members with the Fraternal Order of Police.”

The FOP said morale is low within the department, and some of the suggestions it has made to improve morale have been ignored, such as upgrading tactical vests to be able to carry more safety gear with less stress on an officer’s body.

“If your officers feel that they are being taken care of, and they are actually listened to, you’re gonna see a change in morale. You’re gonna want to see that officer do more work for you,” Ortiz said.

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The FOP said it met with the chief on Monday to resolve some of their concerns and decided to go public after that meeting. CMPD did not address any of the specific complaints in its response cited by the FOP.

For example, the consultant has never worked with a police department before, and the FOP is worried about possible safety issues.

Gemini Boyd is a community activist and said that from personal experience, he believes the police could do a lot to improve community relations.

Boyd said anything could be an improvement but is unsure if this approach would work.

“CMPD needs to make sure they bring in individuals to help make sure they can facilitate classes or, whatever, who have actually been in these situations before,” Boyd said. “That’s the only way it’s gonna work.”