CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The newest Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings was sworn in at a ceremony Wednesday morning.
Jennings took the Oath of Office just after 10 a.m. at the Charlotte City Council chamber. His mother and family were present at the ceremony and joined him during the swearing in.
“I look forward to serving this community and pray every day that we will make Charlotte a safer place to live,” Jennings said after officially taking the new title.
Jennings said his administration will focus on four key areas: professional accountability, community collaboration, crime management, and employee wellness.
“It is important that as a police department we adopt a customer service mentality and instill that mentality throughout the department,” Jennings said. “The community provides the CMPD with the authority to police. We are never going to move the needle and build community relations until we recognize how the community wants to be policed. That will require all of us, every single one of us coming together to make this community safer and the CMPD a better department.”
Jennings was named as the new chief months earlier when then-chief Kerr Putney announced his retirement would be effective on July 1. Although the news of Putney’s retirement was not entirely new, the effective date was.
Jennings emphasized that CMPD employee health and wellness will also be a top priority.
“Sadly, what often gets overshadowed in policing is the human side of the profession. It’s sometimes easy to forget that there are men and women who are serving this community in our department, both sworn and civilian,” Jennings said. “Fair to say, that it has never been more challenging time for them to serve in law enforcement than this current time.”
Jennings, who has been with CMPD for 28 years, was named deputy chief just a few years ago. He previously said he was looking forward to transitioning into the role while working with Putney.
The incoming chief took time to speak to WBTV about a variety of topics the week before taking office.
Jennings said he embraces the nationwide calls for change and has a goal to build collaboration between the police and the public.
“I think the community has been heard. I think they know that change is inevitable,” said Jennings. “I’ve always said that policing is something that is given to us by the people. The authority that we have is given to us by the people and they have a say in how we police them and how that works.”
Jennings credits the Charlotte City Council’s safe communities committee with helping to bring the police and public together. He said he is also looking at the possibility of having community members sit in on internal meetings.
Mayor Vi Lyles called it a “new era” as she congratulated Jennings in March.
“Please join us in congratulating DC Jenning as we look forward to introducing him as the next Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Chief of Police in September 2020,” CMPD tweeted.