CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Ever since Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) started the “Bridge the Difference” conversations in 2018, the department has had 14 events.
Police have been going directly to where people are to have conversations about officers and the communities they serve -- as well as police issues on the streets.
The conversations have happened in west Charlotte and east Charlotte. They’ve talked at predominantly black churches, and also sat down with young people.
At lunch on Wednesday, it was the business community in SouthPark.
“It’s important for our members to be exposed to events and things that are happening in our community that we might not otherwise see” said Bruce Walker, Executive Director of Hood Hargett Breakfast Club.
Walkers says Hood Hargett is a business networking organization.
He’s hoping members tell others about the conversation they had with a panel that included CMPD Chief Kerr Putney, Willie Ratchford of the Community Relations Committee and Arkevious Armstrong of Step Up To Leadership.
“I simply hope that our members will come back today, talk to their family, talk to their friends, talk to their co-workers about what’s happening within CMPD,” said Walker.
“I think the big thing is we’re all over the city. Our officers do work in every neighborhood. I think though we do see more trust in certain neighborhoods, areas – this (SouthPark) being one,” said Chief Putney. “I think if all you care about what’s going on in your neighborhood you’re missing the opportunity to help the whole city heal and that’s why we’re here as well.”
It wasn’t just the Chief who was there from CMPD. Some officers from police divisions sat with the crowd.
“The big thing I see they got - they have an opportunity right now to continue this conversation with officers one on one just to get a better feel for where we are as a community,” said Chief Putney. “They can hear directly from them why we’re trying so hard to improve the trust.”
The topics during the conversation varied and included how police are perceived and received, how to get to know police officers, and outreach and engagement.