CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte City Council member penned a letter to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) after riding along with officers Friday night, saying they "represent the best" of the Queen City.
Councilman Tariq Bokhari says he requested the ride-along because it was Police Week, and because of negative coverage surrounding fellow council member LaWana Mayfield's recent social media post referring to some police officers as "homegrown terrorists wearing blue uniforms."
Bokhari had already spoken out against Mayfield's position on the subject, saying her comment did not reflect the vast majority of the council member's perspective.
"They deserve better than that. They protect us on a daily basis. We need to support them. We need to lift them up," Bokhari said on Thursday. "This tweet is counterproductive. It's not productive to that, in fact, it further divides us from having the types of conversations and come up with the solutions we need."
Bokhari said after riding along with CMPD officers the day after his statement, he feels even more respect for those who wear the badge than he already did.
CMPD posted the entire letter on the department's Facebook page:
"Friday night changed me," he wrote, in part, to the department. "I was always a big supporter of what you all do, but after serving on council and dealing with these issues at a macro, policy level... I saw a lot that made me think differently. Putting aside the danger and the fast pace of the job that leaves little time for breaks or catching your breath... I saw a portion of our community that loved and appreciated you."
In his letter, Bokhari described several different calls he and officers went on. He described the "fear and danger" officers face, and how they acted in the face of those obstacles.
"I saw the fear and danger you guys face. I saw some of the worst of our city. I saw the best of our department - how you guys acted, whether it was a traffic stop of someone yelling profanity at you. I also saw some of the best of our city," Bokhari wrote.
The councilman also wrote about one instance when several kids began talking to officers. He said the officers joked with the kids and even gave them stickers from their police cruisers.
"And one of them came up to me and said they made a poem at school that week in appreciation of police week and our officers who came out to protect them when they needed it," Bokhari wrote. "Amazing."
Bokhari then went on to promise the department he will do all he can to help with officer salaries and the budget.
"I promise you all this - I will work hard to make this budget produce an extra-ordinary outcome relating to your salary."
He then addressed Mayfield's social media post, stating again it does not represent the city's feelings toward law enforcement.
"And I promise you one more thing - the sentiments expressed in last week's tweet is not how this city feels about you," he wrote. "You are loved and respected."