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Putney To Council: Charlotte Short On Cops

Tom Bullock

Charlotte is facing a shortage of cops. That was the simple message CMPD Chief Kerr Putney brought to the city council Monday night.

Last year there were 42 murders in Charlotte, a 30 year low. This year, Chief Putney says violent crime across the city has jumped by 17.5 percent. He told the council he was particularly concerned "about the 47 percent increase" in homicides. The dramatic increase doesn't stop there. "We also want to talk about home invasion robberies which have increased by almost 50 percent."

Putney was invited to the city council in order to lay out his strategy to bring those numbers down. His recommendation? "We need to look at public safety as infrastructure." City leaders needed to think about police officers like they think about roads or water pipes; add to the force as the population increases.

And using 2008 as a benchmark, Putney argued, the number of officers hasn’t kept pace.

Why 2008? It was the last time the city increased the number of CMPD officers on the beat. Back then they asked for 250. "We got 125," said Putney.  To add context to his argument he compared the number of calls to 911 over that same period. In 2008 there were roughly 750,000 calls for assistance, "and so far this year we’re in excess of 1.2 million 911 calls." The officers that are on the beat face a greater scrutiny from the public in what Putney referred to as the ‘Post Ferguson Era.’ "How we disproportionately stop minority youth, blacks in particular," Putney defended that practice saying, "my officers are doing exactly what I tell them to do." An order, he says that is driven by statistics. "Even though blacks make up 35 pecent of the city they are 52 percent of all victims of crimes that are reported in this jurisdiction."

Putney then dug deeper into those numbers.  "Sixty two percent of violent crime victims so people are intentionally targeting blacks in particular."

But again and again Putney went back to his core argument, Charlotte needs more cops to serve a city with a booming population. He told the council he’d have firm numbers on just how many new police are needed by the end of the year, just when the council’s work on the next city budget begins