CMPD honors officers, chief responds to open letter

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - An open letter sent to WBTV and Charlotte city council members is getting some attention on social media.

The letter, titled "A City Without Cops," was written by an anonymous person who identified as a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer.

It warns Charlotte that the department will lose many officers because "Morale across the department is at an all-time low. Young, old, rookie, veteran; everyone is questioning why they are sticking around. It's the topic of conversation during roll call before shift, the 15 minutes we get to eat on patrol, and at the end of shift in the locker room before going home."

WBTV asked Chief Kerr Putney about the letter.

"I have morale issues too. Here's what I'll tell you. It's bigger than me. It's about the service we provide to those who depend on us and I can tell you as well it's easy when you go through tough times to feel like you're under appreciated. I think this crowd today proves different," Putney said. "I understand morale. I've experienced it before when it's not been the highest but I'm confident in our people that they're going to be resilient, that our city leadership is going to take care of them the best they can and then we're going to move forward."

The letter takes the city council to task about department salaries. Officers asked for a 15 percent raise and other incentives. The city manager is proposing six and a half percent raise.

Chief Putney said he read the letter.

"My thoughts were pretty simple. People want to be compensated. They have families to support. I respect that. They're asking for that and I'm going to let city leadership provide the best that they can," the chief said. "I'm not going to get into the compensation. I've spoken enough. I'm going to let the city leadership lead. They have work to do and I'm not going to get in the way of it. I do support our people. I always want our officers to get more money but now the city leadership has it and they're going to do their business."

The letter tells the city the department will lose officers because Charlotte doesn't appreciate them or understand the verbal abuse police endure and the dangers they face.

"And, why would we stay? Why serve a community and a city that doesn't care about our well being in any way? Why serve a community that screams obscenities, too offensive to even consider putting in this letter when we drive by. Why serve when the city sees us as an expendable number that can be taken advantage of over, and over again," the letter asks.

As National Police Week continues to honor law enforcement around the country, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department took time Wednesday morning to recognize dozens of officers who performed "above and beyond."

"It's always overwhelming. I talk about it all year the great work that our officers do. This is the first tangible example," Chief Kerr Putney said.

Putney added, "We're just giving them awards for work that goes above and beyond."

The department honored several categories, including Purple Heart, Medal of Valor, Medal of Merit, Meritorious Award, Lifesaving Award, Citizen Long-term Achievement Award, Citizen Service Award, Chief's Award for Excellence in Policing and Chief's Unit Citations.

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