• CMPD chief says building trust is essential in department

    By: Mark Becker

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Less than two months into his tenure, Charlotte’s new police chief said there is healing to be done and trust to be rebuilt after the manslaughter trial of one of his officers ended with a deadlocked jury.

    “The department is a reflection of Charlotte as a whole and Charlotte is divided,” Chief Kerr Putney told Eyewitness News reporter Mark Becker on Thursday. “There are divided opinions in the organization as well, sure.”

    • PRESS PLAY to watch Chief Putney address the divide within CMPD:

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    Those divisions became apparent almost as soon as police charged Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick with manslaughter in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell in September of 2013.

    Within days, police held briefings at their training academy to explain to other officers why they had Kerrick arrested within hours of the shooting.

    Officers said the department had rushed to judgment too quickly in the trial when evidence including dash cam video was made public.

    On Thursday, Putney said he still stands by the decision to charge Kerrick.

    • PRESS PLAY to hear Chief Putney say he stands by the decision to charge Officer Kerrick:

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    “Yes, I do,” Putney said. “We established probable cause based on the facts. I'm not going to try and rewrite the narrative.”

    He did say that he has to rebuild trust within the department and the community.

    https://twitter.com/MarkBeckerWSOC9/status/636914071250567168

    After years of steady declines, crime has edged back up in the first half of 2015.

    “I was here over the last decade as crime numbers plummeted.  Now we're fighting our own success and I think we're up to the challenge,” Putney said.

    He said he wants to reverse that trend by focusing on crimes against Hispanic victims and what he called crime sprees by a few violent criminals.

    He said he still needs to listen and learn but is more convinced than ever that he is where he needs to be.

    “This is what I was built for,” Putney said. “This is why I exist, this is what I do. This is part of who I am and to do it for the city and (the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department) family that I love. It's a dream come true.”

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