CMPD emphasizes de-escalation techniques in new policy, use of force now called ‘response to resistance’

CMPD changes 'use of force' policy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department announced new policy changes regarding their use of force policy, which governs when or how police officers can use their guns, tasers or other types of weapons.

It comes after the department faced scrutiny for a fatal officer-involved shooting in a west Charlotte Burger King parking lot. After that incident, the department said they’d review their own use of force policies and with the help of the community, would implement change.

The first change is the name itself. CMPD is now calling it their “response to resistance policy." They say this will place an emphasis on de-escalation techniques instead of officers using a gun.

“I said our goal in every encounter, every armed encounter, is de-escalation. Every single one,” said Chief Kerr Putney.

It’s easier said than done. De-escalation is something Temako McCarthy has been passionate about since 2011, when her son was killed after a CMPD officer tazed him.

“I had a sit-down meeting with Chief Putney and brought in a lot of my concerns and issues with policing, training and use of force and how to define resisting arrest," said McCarthy.

She was part of the meetings that helped bring change to the policy - that it now stresses the use of de-escalation techniques when a person is armed more so than in previous policy.

But the policy does not change the fact that an officer can use deadly force if there is a imminent threat.

“A gun is a game changer. A gun changes the dynamics of what we encounter. What we’re trying to do is get time, distance and cover to try and de-escalate," said Putney.

Robert Dawkins with Action NC said the policy is moving in the right direction, but he does have concerns with Chief Putney’s plans to retire.

“If we get a new police chief that is more conservative, more afraid of the FOP then all of this is just going to be paper and not have much impact," said Dawkins.

“Whether I’m your chief or not, this policy will stand. Unless you as a community say it’s time to enhance and improve upon," said Putney.

The chief called this a working and breathing document, saying he wants the community’s input so they can continue to change and improve their policies.

This year alone, officers have encountered 8,000 armed subjects. All but three of those have been successfully de-escalated.

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