CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -Safe Coalition NC has been a leader in the conversation on reforming police departments for years.
Now, it says there’s enough support within the community to move that conversation forward to the next steps.
But first, it is calling on an independent audit of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department budget.
Safe Coalition NC wants to see how the police budget is used.
They say after an audit, they could better determine if any money would be better spent on community initiatives. But they say they can’t make those plans without all the information.
The community is getting involved too, asking the city to approve this audit of the police budget after Safe Coalition NC asked them to call 311 on Monday requesting the audit.
“Before we talk about anything, even defunding police, you have to know where the funds are. If you talk about improving police, you have to know what needs to be improved,” said Robert Dawkins, with Safe Coalition NC.
One question they’re asking: Would it be more effective for mental health professionals to respond to police calls for mental health issues?
“Before you just move forward, you have to have a plan,” Dawkins said.
Dawkins said the audit would give them the information to make that solid plan to re-imagine the police department to eventually present to city council.
“Before you can say I want this out of the police budget, I want to take X and do X with it, you first have to go see how much money and what is the effectiveness,” Dawkins said.
CMPD is open to the conversation.
“It is awfully, critically important we all get to the table and engage in this conversation, some would say it’s longer overdue,” said Rob Tufano with CMPD.
When asked about outside organizations taking over certain police duties, Rob Tufano with CMPD said it could work if there's a plan put in place.
“It’s really got to be examined closely before you start reassigning those important responsibilities. Certainly worth dialogue,” Tufano said. “We had 600,000 engagements with community members last year alone. I can’t sit here with a straight face and say they all required a police response.”
Safe Coalition NC asked community members to call 311 on Monday and demand an independent audit.
One member who called was Nic Feldt.
Over the last two months, Nic has spent time calling her local representatives asking for change. They say it’s a pivotal part of being an active member of your community.
“These are public servants, these are city council people. They are public servants, police are public servants. Our taxes are what’s paying them,” they said. “My best interest should be their best interest and it’s not and that’s why people are making these calls.”
Tufano said Chief Jennings is going to talk with community leaders on Tuesday about police reform and community engagement.