CMPD discusses use of chemical agents, formally updates Civil Emergency Unit procedure
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has formally updated the Civil Emergency Unit’s (CEU) Standard Operating Procedure.
Police say this update comes after reviewing the violent demonstrations that began on May 29, 2020, during which CMPD had deployed Riot Control Agents (RCA).
Several amendments have been made to the CEU Standard Operating Procedure. Effective immediately:
- When a dispersal order is given, the verbal order and avenues of escape will be audibly communicated loudly, clearly, and repeatedly to the crowd.
- The deployment of RCAs is intended to disperse unlawful crowds to stop riotous behavior and activity and ensure the safety of the public and officers. Prior to deploying RCAs, dispersal orders must be given, unless exigent circumstances exist.
- If a dispersed crowd reassembles at another location after a lapse in time, additional dispersal orders must be given, absent exigent circumstances.
“CMPD is a learning agency and will continue to ensure its policies, procedures, and tactics continue to be in-line with the high standards the department holds itself to,” a press release read.
CMPD held a virtual press conference Tuesday night to discuss the budget, the Civil Emergency Unit procedure and the use of chemical agents during protests in the city.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney says there have been 30 protests since they started in Charlotte on May 29. Putney says 19 officers have been injured and 128 people have been arrested.
Chief Putney says officers will provide more clarity to protesters to avoid chemical agents in the future. He says he hates any time his officers put themselves in a position where their actions are called into question.
“This is an opportunity for us to step back and assess.” Chief Putney said regarding the June 2 CMPD incident.
Chief Putney says CMPD had not requested money for chemical agents in FY 2021, which starts in July. With some portion of the Republican National Convention still coming to Charlotte, Putney says he’s not ruling out purchasing more chemical agents.
Putney did not say how many chemical agents the department currently has.
On Monday night, Charlotte City Council passed several resolutions creating new oversight over CMPD, including banning the purchase of chemical agents such as tear gas for the next year.
The motions were made in response to local and nationwide protests over police abuse and the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
The motion that got the most attention, and received the most debate by council members, was made by councilman Braxton Winston to ban the purchase of chemical munitions and charge a city council committee to oversee police spending.
However, it does not prevent Charlotte Mecklenburg police from using tear gas for crowd control during the current protests.
The use of chemical munitions came under scrutiny after video shot by Queen City Nerve showed protesters on 4th street trapped by tear gas on both sides of the street.
“Our police chief has said that without chemical agents police will be forced to use batons to break skin and bones the people of Charlotte have said that is not a sufficient answer,” Winston said during the council meeting.
Charlotte Budget Director Ryan Bergman said police spent $103,000 on chemical agents last year.
Two independent reviews are being conducted on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s tactics that received backlash during June 2 protests in uptown Charlotte.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate more than 50 legal complaints, while the Office for Domestic Preparedness will provide feedback on what the department can do better moving forward.
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