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CMPD Chief's Plan To Retire, Come Back For RNC Could Violate NC Law


The city of Charlotte planned to discuss its transition plan for hiring a new police chief Wednesday morning.  But the city has canceled that news conference amid concerns that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney’s retirement plan may violate state law.

The city laid out a complicated plan on Monday for Putney’s retirement.

Under the plan, Putney would step down Jan. 1, and then take two months off.

During that time, he would start drawing his state pension, and then be rehired by the city as police chief. He would work for six months – leading the city’s preparations for the 2020 Republican National Convention – and then retire again.

Retiring and then coming back is common in the public sector. But the plan could violate the state rules governing retirement.

State law says that someone can collect their retirement only after a complete separation from active service — with no intent, expressed or implied, to return to service.

WBTV first reported on the problem with Putney’s retirement.

City Attorney Patrick Baker told WFAE he is going to contact the state retirement system to clarify whether the city’s plan is OK. He said it’s common for public employees to return, but he said he doesn’t have experience with a public employee making a high-profile announcement of their intentions to return.

The city released a statement saying “there was no intent to circumvent the law.”

Nearly three years ago, for instance, Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble retired from the city. He returned to work part time for the city a few months later, but he did not announce his plans to come back.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.