CMPD’s newest police reform initiative focuses on customer service

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 3:14 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police launched a new training program to create more positive interactions between police and the public.

On Thursday, CMPD announced the launch of its newest police reform initiative which focuses on CMPD’s customer experience vision.

Police Chief Johnny Jennings enlisted the help of global customer experience expert John DiJulius to help develop the training program. DiJulius consults companies like Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks, and Disney to improve customer service. DiJulius says this is the first time his program is being used by a police department.

With the help of CMPD and civilians, DiJulius’ program was adapted to train police officers and CMPD employees.

“We are looking for ways that we can have better outcomes with the people we come in contact with,” Chief Jennings said. “This isn’t to say we do this poorly. This isn’t to say that officers aren’t having positive outcomes or positive engagements with people. But it’s to say that we’re going to start focusing on it. We’re going to be intentional about it. And, we’re going to implement this and embed this in everything we do within our agency.”

The concept is simple. The program will encourage officers to show empathy, compassion, and kindness anytime they encounter the public, even if the situation is negative.

“That encounter, although it’s a negative incident, does not have to be a negative encounter with that officer,” Chief Jennings said. “When we can leave a positive impression with that interaction… [we] don’t let that person go away feeling CMPD officers are bad people or are jerks or whatever name you want to come up with.”

Chief Jennings hopes the program and positive encounters between police and the public will change the public’s perception of police and lead to stronger relationships.

DiJulius says there are similarities between customer service in the private sector and in law enforcement. He compared police work to other businesses that involve high emotional stress, such as funeral homes. In those settings, DiJulius says it is important to understand you may not know what a person is going through.

“They [police] can go from a domestic violence situation, a death notice, to a person who just go their iPad stolen out of their trunk,” DiJulius said. “And that person wants crime scene tape out there, answers, they want something done. Now it pales in comparison, but they still deserve your time and respect, nonjudgement, empathy, and compassion.”

DiJulius says the positive interactions between police and the community will leave police feeling better about their work too.

“If I make your day, you feel good. But I go home feeling like I had a good day. And policing needs that. They get beat up and they get dragged through the mud,” DiJulius said.

All employees, sworn officers and civilians, will complete the customer experience course. It involves an online program and classroom time. A CMPD spokesperson says the program costs the department roughly $60,000.

“We say training a lot but really we’re changing our culture and our expectations when it comes to dealing with the public and how we deal with each other internally,” Chief Jennings said.

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