CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s assistant chief just retired and now, she says she is able to react to last year’s deadly violence across the city.
“When I walked out the door, I felt this huge sense of relief,” CMPD assistant chief Vicki Foster said on Monday.
Foster said the “community is in crisis" and there are some tough conversations that need to be had.
Foster spent more than 28 years at CMPD and during her time in the department, she has never seen homicide numbers this high.
She said it is alarming, but people in the city aren’t reacting the way she thought they would. Foster said what she sees is that community outrage about deaths only comes when it’s officer-involved.
She said she understands that police must be held to a higher standard and more accountability, but there’s a growing concern over crimes involving African Americans against each other.
It is an observation that she said she knows might make some uncomfortable, but she believes we need to talk about it.
“We will have community forums and meetings at the churches, if a police officer kills someone,” Foster said on Monday. “You don’t see anyone having anything when it’s black-on-black crime. Nobody is saying a word.”
On the following day, some community activists said that comment did not settle well with them.
“It's got to be personal when you work every day to try to help somebody,” community leader Charles Robinson said.
He's spent the last several years in his church and the Hidden Valley neighborhood trying to stop the violence.
“What we envision in this place is to be a light for the community,” Robinson said.
He said he had to say something after hearing Foster’s comment on black-on-black crime.
“It's almost a slap in the face when you've committed to try and help someone else be better,” he said.
Will Adams leads Team Trublue and has been active in the community since his son was killed 12 years ago.
“But to say that we're doing nothing and that we don't care?” Adams said shaking his head.
He said Foster’s words stung.
“Absolutely, because I know what we do, and I know what we've been doing, and I know what we'll continue to do,” Adams said.
Foster said Tuesday she does not regret what she said the day before.
She said she stands by her words and felt she didn’t need to clarify them.
Foster said there are certainly groups and individuals doing good work in the community, but the larger community continues to stay silent.
“Nobody’s talking about individual people,” she said. “I hate that people think this is an individualized story. This is about the community and all of us coming together.”
Foster said the violent crime in Charlotte is everyone’s problem. She said it will take the community coming together to find solutions.
Foster started an organization called “CMPD Hope” during her time in the department. It focuses on helping department personnel with financial issues.
So far, it has given out $120,000.
Soon, Foster said another initiative called “Safe Outcomes” will roll out.
“What that is about is allowing people to register their loved ones that have mental illness or autism that may have something that will impact their interaction with a police officer,” Foster said. “We will eventually be able to have that information on a call for service.”
Foster said she plans to continue to work on the Safe Outcomes program in her retirement.
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