CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Citizens Review Board (CRB) is ready for Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to change its policy concerning the use of deadly force.
The CRB has already submitted proposed changes to the police department.
The current CMPD policy reads “...In determining whether force is reasonably, it must be taken into full consideration that officers may be forced to make split second judgments that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving about the amount of force...”
The CRB wants to change the policy to read more like this. “...Deadly force should be employed only in the most extreme circumstances when: (i) de-escalation is either simply not possible or has failed: and (ii) all lesser means of force have failed or could not be reasonably employed...”
The board wants the protection of all human life to be the theme and supported by all CMPD policies and actions.
“Time is changing,” CRB Chair JR Black said. “And the way things are happening in today’s society - we value not only change, but we also value life.”
The chairman says CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney has met with the CRB already about the proposed changes. Black says the Chief is open to change, but says more discussion is needed first.
“He says he wants to get it right - but not fast,” Black said.
The leaders are hoping a change in CMPD’s use of deadly force policy will happen by the end of the year.
The CRB also wants to tackle the thinking of police officers when they do their job in protecting the city.
“Even in a use of force, and the use of deadly force policy to be open and embrace the guardian mentality, before ultimately resorting in the appropriate circumstances to a warrior mentality,” CRB Attorney Julian Wright said.
The CRB also wants to include a line in the policy that states “An armed person shall not automatically be deemed an immediate threat simply by virtue of being armed.”
The bottom-line is CRB wants de-escalation tactics to be used first before deadly force is used.
“When things do transpire and happen in the community, and also our world," Black said. "We have to take time to step back, add some space and distance, and think for a second.”
Another change the CRB also wants to include in the policy is giving police a back-up in case the officer on duty can’t get the job done when it comes to diffusing the situation.
“Other police officers having an affirmative duty to step in and intervene in situations when their colleagues are not effectively de-escalating a situation,” Wright said.
CRB leaders don’t know if the proposed policy changes happened sooner, if some of the police officer shootings would have been avoided, but they hope going forward the changes will calm things down.