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One Year Later, Putney Reflects On Keith Scott Shooting And Protests

Lisa Worf
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney at police headquarters.

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney speaks with a lot of bluntness these days. Take this example from a Charlotte Talks Public Conversation this summer. He addressed the lack of economic opportunity and other social challenges that disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods.

“I’m not going to say Kumbaya and let’s overcome everything. What I’m going to say is if you have financial means, support the work that needs to be done that changes these outcomes, and then you get out of the way and shut your mouth. And then let those of us who are willing to change outcomes, do so," Putney said at the July 12 event.

Putney says his public speaking methods are deliberate:

"I have become a bit more direct, because I don’t want to be ambiguous. I think the issues looking back a year ago is there was some ambiguity," he told WFAE's Mark Rumsey.

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the police shooting of Keith Scott. Of course, protests followed, both peaceful and violent. So did increased scrutiny of CMPD – scrutiny that certainly continues today.

This week, WFAE speaks to a lot of people we heard from in that tumultuous week. Protesters, politicians, concerned citizens. And Wednesday night, Charlotte Talks will broadcast a live Public Conversation in which we’ll examine policing, activism and economic opportunity.

As part of the conversation leading up to that event, Mark Rumsey spoke to Putney at CMPD headquarters. Putney says the reaction to the Scott shooting caught him off guard.

"We've seen issues like that in the past, not to that degree obviously. We knew we weren't immune to it, but the level it went wasn't something that we expected or had seen before."

As for officer Brentley Vinson, who shot Scott, Putney says he's doing as well as can be expected.

"What is missed a lot in these conversations is the impact of taking a life, although legal, on your belief system," Putney says. "There's an impact to you and how you go about doing business. You've been vilified in some ways, and ultimately what you're trying to do is what you took an oath to do. He's hanging in there. He's young, he's resilient, but it was a tough time."