Charlotte's Next Police Chief: Kerr Putney
Kerr Putney, a 23-year veteran of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department will replace Police Chief Rodney Monroe when Monroe retires later this month. Putney is the first internal hire for the position in more than 20 years. His promotion was announced at a press conference at City Hall on Monday.
City manager Ron Carlee said after interviewing the department’s five deputy chiefs, it was clear from comments he received from those who had worked with Putney that he was the best candidate.
“Here are some of the comments,” Carlee said. “He is a natural leader, he is committed to making positive changes to how we deal with diversity, he is the best in the world, super, super good.”
“That was my mom,” said Putney, who often showed a personable and humorous side during the press conference. He said he’s humbled by the promotion and does not plan to make major changes. He committed to being out in the community more and continue programs Chief Monroe implemented, such as the cops and barbers community discussions that have received local and national attention this year.
A big challenge Putney faces in his first weeks as chief is the July 20 voluntary manslaughter trial of former CMPD officer Randall Kerrick, accused of shooting an unarmed African-American man 10 times at close range in 2013. Putney led the team that investigated Kerrick. He said his officers will be prepared for what is expected to be a contentious trial.
“You gotta be empathetic, compassionate but also make sure that people respect our city. It’s good to protest, it’s good to demonstrate but you will not riot,” Putney said.
Putney received praise from city officials like Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, who said, “I’m confident, as is the city council, that he deserves and that he will in fact have our unquestioned support.”
City Council member Claire Fallon agreed and said she talked to numerous people at the department and in the community and heard only good things about Putney.
“There was no one who had a bad word to say about him,” Fallon said. “I’ve known him for years and think he is the best choice we could have made. The community knows him and his troops follow him. That’s so important.”
Community activists who have worked with Putney, such as Central Carolinas Urban League President Patrick Graham and Corine Mack, president of Charlotte’s NAACP, also applauded his promotion.
“He knows this community well and has been part of the leadership and many of the strategic visions that the police department has had over the past decade, so I think this is a great match for the city,” Graham said.
“He understands what the issues are,” Mack said. “He’s worked very diligently with Chief Monroe and the community to ensure that we have a safer community around the police issues we’ve had over the 18 months and I think it was the right decision.”
Putney, a UNC Charlotte graduate, moved up through the ranks from a patrol officer to various training and supervisory positions. He will be officially sworn in on June 29.