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Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe To Retire

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Tasnim Shamma
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe will retire on July 1 after seven years on the job. WFAE’s Duncan McFadyen reports Monroe became  known for his hands-on approach.

Rodney Monroe came to Charlotte in June of 2008 as the department’s first African-American chief. His career as a police officer started nearly 40 years ago as a beat cop in Washington DC, where he rose to various leadership positions. He went on to become police chief in Macon Georgia and Richmond Virginia before landing in Charlotte. Two months into his tenure, Monroe did away with several specialized administrative units and reassigned those officers to patrol. At the time, he said his priority was to get more officers on the streets.

"That’s where everything gets done, that’s where every community resides, in one of our 13 patrols, and we have to find ways to make sure that we continue to push resources back to those communities as we can," he said at an August 2008 press conference.

Monroe has been a visible figure at community events. Susan Lindsay, a founder of East Charlotte Community Partners, says she appreciates his approach:

"He’s always been receptive and forthcoming and has always followed through on requests, so it’s been a good working relationship," Lindsay says.

A good example of his hands on style was captured by former WFAE reporter Julie Rose during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Monroe was on the streets monitoring protests.

JULIE ROSE: Are you trying to avoid arresting people here or..? 

RODNEY MONROE: we’re, uh, just, uh, assessing what they’re looking to do right now, and we’re not in any rush to do anything just yet. We’re just in a holding pattern. 

One of the first controversies Monroe death with in Charlotte concerned himself. While police chief in Richmond, he received a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at Virginia Commonwealth University despite only taking two courses as a transfer student. After he arrived in Charlotte, an investigation conducted by VCU and Virginia State officials found Monroe was the beneficiary of others who broke rules for him, although the investigation made clear he didn’t seek the special treatment. His biography on the city’s website says he now has a degree in criminal justice from the University of Phoenix.

Monroe took decisive action when officers were accused of serious crimes. In late 2009, he immediately fired an officer accused of sexually assaulting women during traffic stops. Then in 2013, Monroe charged officer Randall Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter less than 24 hours after he shot Jonathan Ferrell ten times. That case is scheduled to go to trial in July.

This year, following other high profile police shootings of black men in Ferguson Missouri and elsewhere, Monroe led a series of community forums called Cops and Barbers. The idea for the forums came of barber Shaun Corbett, who works just down the street from the North Tryon Police Station. He praised Monroe for addressing tough issues.

"Just by seeing chief Monroe on the front lines and [being] willing to answer the questions that most people shy away from, he’s willing to sit down and meet with people who have issues and questions. That’s relieving some of the tension," Corbett said.

City leaders also praised Monroe yesterday. Mayor Dan Clodfelter, City Manager Ron Carlee, and others said they wished he was staying on the job longer. Carlee says he and Monroe had been discussing the possibility of his retirement for several months.

"I have full, complete confidence, and I would have loved to've kept him forever," Carlee said, "but I appreciate that, you know, the time comes and you think it's right, then you need to do it."

Chief Monroe did have a press conference to announce his retirement; instead, he sent out a letter Monday afternoon (see below) in which he said the decision to retire had been difficult and had taken some time to make.

In a separate statement also released Monday afternoon, the city indicates a successor for Monroe may have been chosen already. 

STATEMENT

CHARLOTTE N.C. – ( May 18, 2015) – Chief Rodney Monroe announced his retirement effective July 1, 2015, after seven years as chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD).

“I’m honored to have served as your chief for seven years,” says Monroe. “CMPD has experienced historic crime reductions, fostered trust and built upon established community partnerships. None of this would have been achieved without the hard work and commitment from each and every member of our organization. There is no doubt the current leadership will continue to move this department forward in a direction that further strengthens our community into one we are all very proud to be a part of.”

Mayor Dan Clodfelter stated, “Chief Monroe has been an exceptional leader for the men and women of CMPD, and his unwavering commitment to strengthening police-community relations has proven to have a powerful and, I believe, lasting impact on our City. While we recognize this is a tremendous loss for the department and for all of us in Charlotte, we also congratulate Chief Monroe on his retirement and his exemplary career of public service.”

Under Chief Monroe’s leadership, Charlotte has seen significant crime reductions in every crime category including the lowest number of homicides on record. Monroe also oversaw the department’s introduction of cutting-edge technology such as video camera systems, various crime analytics, a real-time crime center and body worn cameras.

“Charlotte has been extremely fortunate to have Chief Monroe’s leadership for the past seven years and his tireless promotion of positive and constructive community-police relations,” said City Manager Ron Carlee. “Charlotte is a safer and stronger community for his work.  No one could have served Charlotte better during this period. Personally, it has been a privilege to work with Chief Monroe.  He is the consummate professional administrator and has been my closest advisor.   No job in local government today is more demanding than that of Police Chief and Rodney Monroe has earned a well-deserved break from the intensity of truly never being off duty. I wish him and his family the very best in the next phase of his life.”

Monroe was appointed chief in 2008 after serving previously in the same capacity in Macon, Ga., and in Richmond, Va. He retires with nearly 40 years of experience in law enforcement.

Information regarding Chief Monroe’s replacement will be made available later this week.

Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe To Retire
WFAE's Lisa Worf and Mark Rumsey discuss retirement of CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe.

Chief Monroe's letter to city manager, the mayor and city council is below. Click here to open the letter as a PDF.

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