CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Tuesday will be Kerr Putney’s final day as the leader of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Putney, a veteran of the department, has spent the last five years serving as the department’s police chief.
Both Putney and his successor, CMPD Deputy Chief Johnny Jennings, have been with the department for 28 years.
Putney spoke to WBTV in an interview Monday morning to field questions about his career and retirement.
When asked how he wanted to be remembered, Putney responded, “A real cop who did what he said he was going to do and if he had to do it all over again, he’d do it even better.”
While Putney has managed hundreds of sworn officers, he noted that his proudest accomplishments include work done with community members.
“Mostly what I’d like to be remembered by is the work I’ve done to connect young people with opportunities,” said Putney. “Envision Academy has tripled in size. I’m proud of that work. Cops and kids learning Spanish. Latinos now have a deeper trust with us. We’ve scraped the tip of the iceberg, but there’s more work to be done there and if somebody attributes that to the tenure I’ve had here, I’m good with that.”
When asked if he would change anything if he had a chance to re-do his career, the chief immediately responded that he would.
“Obviously, I ‘d do a lot differently. Hindsight is 20/20. You don’t have the luxury when you’re in the midst of it,” said Putney.
Putney said most of his changes would involve anticipating reforms that have happened over the years.
“If anybody says they wouldn’t change a thing in their life, they’re lying to you. However, I’m proud of the reform we have made and I look forward to the continued reform CMPD is going to make,” the chief said.
While he’s been asked about it multiple times, Putney refuses to divulge exactly what his retirement plans include.
“Everybody keeps asking. You’ll see. What I’ll tell you is that I’m gonna rest. I’m gonna get some relaxation in. I’m gonna connect young people who are disadvantaged – giving them more access to opportunity that this city has to offer, business sector, government sector so that they can really get a good opportunity,” said Putney.
There have been nationwide calls for police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Putney said he is open to discussions about changes in policing.
“I think it’s an opportunity as we ‘re-imagine’ what we want from our police, for us to be a bit more realistic, practical, logical, meaning we shouldn’t try to be all things to all people,” said Putney. “Money needs to go where it was intended which is mental health, education of young people, giving them the access and opportunity they deserve and stop dropping all of those social problems at the feet of the police.”
The chief has helped lead the department through two different periods of protest, multiple officer-involved shootings, and a landmark year for homicide investigations.
Detectives investigated 107 homicides in 2019.
Putney hopes more emphasis will be put on public education and affordable housing in Charlotte.
“We keep talking about investing in housing, yet I don’t see the true investment that we continue talking about hoping to achieve. I don’t see the progress that I’d like to see,” Putney said.
Putney said he had no part in selecting Jennings to be the CMPD’s next leader, but said the deputy chief is one of many candidates from the department who would be able to lead the organization forward.
“I’m happy for him. I tell him, just get a good mouthpiece because the punches don’t stop coming and also don’t be afraid to fight back,” said Putney.