"Speak Out" is an expression of opinion from the Editorial Board of WBTV, and is presented by General Manager, Scott Dempsey.
A few months ago, both Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael and Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney talked to our Editorial Board.
In separate meetings, they each said that an improved relationship between officers and people in the community was high on their list of goals.
It looks like their efforts are starting to pay off.
For years, the Woodstone Apartment Complex in northeastern Charlotte was known as a crime-ridden area.
The residents didn’t want to see the cops in their neighborhood, and the police weren’t too keen on heading up there for yet another arrest.
But then, one person made a difference.
Woodstone’s Community Manager, Randy Whitman, invited the officers in blue to become tutors at the complex.
They jumped at the chance, helping the kids with math, science and reading.
But, perhaps, just as important, they’re building a feeling of trust.
It’s no longer “us versus them.” These days, it’s “all of us together.”
And now when a patrol car rolls into the complex, kids run toward the officers, excited to see what might happen that day.
Charlotte’s City Council recently approved the hiring of 63 new police officers.
Not as many as Chief Putney had requested, but a good start.
Let’s hope those officers will get involved in their neighborhoods, and that the residents – like those at Woodstone – will welcome them with open arms.