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CMPD Chief Speaks Out Amid Confusion Over The Legality Of His Retirement Plans


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney addressed reporters Wednesday about a story that dominated last week’s news cycle — his retirement and whether his plan to briefly return is legal.

Last week the city of Charlotte announced Putney plans to retire at the end of the year, but that he would be rehired as chief two months later. Putney would see the city through the Republican National Convention then retire for good.

But North Carolina’s state treasurer said those plans would not comply with the law. A state statute says public employees can only collect a pension after "complete separation from active service with no intent or agreement, expressed or implied, to return to service."

Putney said lawyers are talking with local and state officials trying to sort the issue out. 

"This is a profession I thought never would even hire me, and now it’s interesting that they are going to determine when I can leave it," Putney said. "I’m just baffled by the irony here." 

Putney added he doesn’t believe his retirement plans violate the law but would wait to hear from attorneys and act accordingly. 

"Y’all know me. I come up here and talk to you all about personal stuff that’s none of your business because that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be the 'T word' that you all threw at me a lot: transparent. If I were trying to hide something or tip around the law, I wouldn’t have said a word, I would have just done it," Putney told reporters. "I’m going to tell you the truth and do what I believe is right, and then I’ll suffer any consequence that come my way."        

Asked why he needed the two-month break before the RNC, he responded, “I could write a book on that.” 

"After about three decades in this work at this level trying to keep people encouraged, even in the tough times it wears on you," Putney said. "It wears on you in a lot of ways that we don’t even want to talk about or hear about. Being able to step away, regroup, relax and reengage is exactly what I want to do."

Putney wouldn’t speculate what he would do if it turns out his retirement plans violate state law.

When asked if it was a possibility that he would not be present for the RNC, Putney said that is yet to be determined. 

Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.