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CMPD chief announces policy changes following community feedback, calls for police reform

Updated: Aug. 5, 2020 at 1:19 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department announced policy changes and clarifications that have been made in recent weeks following discussions across the country calling for police reform.

CMPD Police Chief Johnny Jennings announced the policy changes at CMPD’s Wednesday morning press briefing. He said the changes are only the start of what is to come.

Under the previous policy, CMPD police officers were required to report when they witnessed another officer’s wrongdoing, under the neglect of duty policy. Now, the neglect of duty policy requires officers to report the wrongdoing, but also intervene and stop the officer from violating CMPD standards.

Since 1987, CMPD has had a policy that bans chokeholds and strangulations. Chief Jennings says the policy has been enhanced by banning any use of force that restricts airflow or blood flow.

Several changes were made to dispersal orders and riot control. First, if CMPD issues dispersal orders and a crowd disperses in response, but later reassembles in another locations, officers must issue new dispersal orders for the second assembly. Officers cannot base actions off previous dispersal orders issued previously or in the previous location.

When dispersal orders are given to a crowd, Chief Jennings says officers must repeatedly and clearly announce exit routes for the crowd to disperse through. The policy also prevents officers from blocking those exit routes with riot control agents or physical barriers, including officers.

Prior to using riot control agents, officers must give dispersal orders unless there is a threat of danger to officers or the public that requires immediate action from officers.

In addition to the riot control policy changes, the commanders of the Civil Emergency Unit will be equipped with body-worn cameras. Previously, Chief Jennings says CMPD did not have the means to provide body cameras to the CEU. Now, the CEU’s leadership team will wear and record off the body-worn-cameras when the CEU is deployed.

Chief Jennings says the changes are the result of tough conversations had with the community about police reform. He expects more changes to be made in the future as the discussions continue.

“”We obviously can’t just blindly go with all demands that are put before us. But what I can do is have those discussions with what I can do and what we can accept. And if we can’t do it then we need to be able to explain why,” Chief Jennings said.

CMPD has received about 5,000 responses to an online survey which asks the community how the department can raise its standards. Chief Jennings says they are looking for more responses from the Black and Latinx communities. You can fill the survey out here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BML32B9

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