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Crime & Justice

Police Chief Putney Says There Is 'Common Ground' Over Bail Policy

Steve Harrison/WFAE
CMPD chief Kerr Putney said Monday he recently discussed Mecklenburg's new bail policy with Chief Magistrate Khalif Rhodes

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief  Kerr Putney told City Council members Monday night that his department is working to reduce the city’s violent crime rate by adding more foot patrols and focusing on high crime areas. 

The number of homicides so far this year – 60 – has already exceeded the number of people murdered in all of 2018.

At a news conference two weeks ago, Putney said part of the problem was a new bail policy that has either sharply reduced or eliminated bail. Putney also said electronic monitoring is used too often, and that a number of people involved in violent crime this year were on electronic monitoring.

Putney said he recently met with the architect of the bail policy — chief magistrate Khalif Rhodes — and chief district judge Regan Miller, who supervises him.

"Actually I feel like we have a lot more in common in the area of repeat violent offenders," Putney said. "We will continue that conversation this week. Because again my understanding is that the law talks about making sure people come to court, but you weigh that with public safety."

Rhodes attended the council meeting, but declined to talk to WFAE after Putney spoke.

"If I could talk, I would," Rhodes said. "Everything has to run through our communications person."

Pam Escaobar, an outreach administrator with the Mecklenburg courthouse, has pointed to a study by a non-profit think tank MDRC, which said that Mecklenburg’s new pre-trail release program did not  affect the percentages of defendants who showed up to court or who were charged with new crimes while waiting for their cases to be resolved. 

Putney said he will continue talking with Rhodes and Miller this week at a meeting of the Criminal Justice Advisory Group.