Charlotte police travel to White House to strengthen community relationships

Charlotte police travel to White House to strengthen community relationships
(Shaun Donithan | WBTV)
(Shaun Donithan | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Representatives from the Charlotte area are at the table when it comes to helping make police better in the 21st Century. Retired Charlotte Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) detective Gary McFadden and CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano traveled to the White House Thursday to discuss solutions.

Last year President Barack Obama created the "Task Force on 21st Century Policing" to help strengthen relationships between police and the community.

President Obama mentioned the "Cops and Barbers" initiative that is happening in Charlotte. CMPD has teamed up with the local Barbers association to hold community forums around the city.  These meeting police say are making a difference and are getting recognition from other departments.

McFadden told WBTV what happened when he was at the White House waiting for the meeting to start.

"When we got there," McFadden said, "And once we were just sitting around and somebody said, 'you are from Charlotte, and when Cops and Barbers came up - that was huge for us.'"

McFadden heard what other departments are doing, and was impressed with what the Boston Police Department does to connect with its community - handing out free ice cream to kids in at-risk communities.

"That breaks the same cycle of officers always coming to your neighborhood only when there is violence, so that's a good idea," McFadden said. "So I think a lot of people are going to rip that off."

As McFadden hears what other police departments are doing, he is confident in the work CMPD is doing.

"We think that we are ahead," McFadden said. "Because we kind of sit back and look at what other departments weren't doing, and we took our own initiative to do them."

McFadden believes that work is paying off and thinks the task force will make a difference, but he realizes the work will be a challenge. The urban police stations may be open to change, but what about the smaller police departments that need these ideas but won't admit it?

"Each city is reaching out to the other city," McFadden said. "I think that is the most important part, because one police department doesn't know everything and one city doesn't know everything."

McFadden told WBTV that he is willing to go to other police departments to help them build relationships with the community. He has reached out to the North Charleston Police Department and is traveling soon to meet with a police department in Maryland.

He thinks the President's task force is a good idea that, hopefully, will make the community see police officers in a different light.

"Don't be ashamed to ask us for help," McFadden said. "Or to ask somebody for help."

No word when the President's task force will meet again.

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