Sunday, May 31, 2009

CMPD Legend Resigns

In Charlotte a lot of news goes unnoticed. News that isn't important enough to garner headlines at the Charlotte Observer or 15 second sound bites on Eyewitness News.

But notice this, on Friday after 37 years of service to the City and Citizens of Charlotte, Sergeant Whit Neal turned in his equipment.

There was no formal ceremony, no party or proclamation from the mayor’s office. Sergeant Neal simply turned in his radio and other gear, he’ll keep his weapon and his badge, and placed his letter of resignation on his supervisor’s desk and that was that.


Many have served their entire law enforcement careers at the CMPD. But few are as well known, liked and admired as Whit Neal.

Years ago when Charlotte was just a cross roads and I-77 was an empty stretch of land that ran parallel to South Blvd known then has South 21, Whit Neal exchanged his green ARMY uniform for the blue of the Charlotte Police Department.

Yes, that is right Whit Neal served in the good ole US ARMY from 1968-1971 and then again from 1991-1994 doing what he felt he should do for this country he so loves.

37 years later, it took less than ten minutes for his career to come to a sudden and abrupt close.

While the image of a police officer after 37 years that comes to mind is that of an overweight balding desk sergeant, Whit Neal is anything but balding and out of shape. Lean with a full head of black hair Whit Neal could easily be mistaken for a much younger cop covering the streets of Charlotte.

He is a combination of southern charm, Andy Taylor sensibility and modern law enforcement street smarts that comes with being part of Charlotte’s thin blue line for so many years.

Common Sense

Cedar Posts recalls a story from years back where two young rookie CMPD officers had stopped a suspect in one of Charlotte’s disadvantaged neighborhoods. They felt something wasn’t just right and called Sergeant Neal.

They both suspected that the person they had detained was a drug dealer but didn’t have anything to support their suspicion and needed Sergeant Neal’s advice on how to properly handle the situation. Neal suggested that they simply ask the suspect if he had any drugs.

The rookie cops followed their sergeant’s advice and asked the suspect, who freely admitted to having a large amount of drugs and was promptly arrested.

Giving It Up

When asked why he was giving it up, Whit replied he’d had enough, that the last year had been filled with needless strife and friends turning against friends in order to fit in with the new command’s management style. He also noted that suddenly cronyism had become rampant, morale had never been as low, due to the troubling direction the new chief has taken the department.

He is heartbroken to see the once effective and well respected CMPD officers so discontented that they are no longer proud to wear the uniform that he has for so many years.

But what really tore at the fabric of his heart was the treatment of the CMPD reserve unit and its members. Changes made earlier this year to the basic structure of the reserves, changes that came with an attitude that if you didn’t like the changes you could leave.

Those who did leave were replaced with retired command staff personnel, a clear attack on BLET trained officers.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has lost a highly valued asset, common sense, justice and ethics in a blue uniform that was Sergeant Whit Neal.


Anonymous said...

I worked with Whit both on and off duty. CMPD lost more than a legend they lost the most common sense SGT. that CMPD ever had. Whit enjoy the lake and I hope with your resignation CMPD might WAKE UP....

Whit said...

i dont know who you are but you know i love you dearly...stand tall and be proud of who you are..

Anonymous said...

The CMPD has certainly lost a legend, but Charlotte has lost so much more. Sgt. Neal reflected the values of his men, caring for one another and the citizens they served. People say police work is not "rocket science', and it surely is not. In many ways it is much harder because you deal with diverse people from all over the world. You have "it" or you don't, and Sgt. Neal definately had "it". Have a great time in retirement my brother, stay safe, and enjoy the happiness you have so richly deserved. Those of us who remember "real police work" will miss you dearly.

Anonymous said...

Many more good officers will soon follow your lead. It was a pleasure working with you. We will miss you dearly.

Anonymous said...

I worked with Whit Neal years ago when I first came to Charlotte. He saved my butt a dozen times or more.

I once saw Whit take down a suspect that was nearly twice his size, the guy never saw it coming.

I thought we would have to shoot the guy, but as Whit put it theres too much paper work if you shoot someone and down the suspect went.

And I'll add this Whit always watched out for his guys, CMPD has lost a great LEGEND indeed.

Anonymous said...

Whit was great and I worked with him a few times out at the Airport when we were doing security out there. Whit, thank you for everything you did at CMPD and hope you enjoy your time away.

I for one can not wait until the day i get to turn it all in. Not too many years left, but all that is happening now will not be fixed by the time I'm gone.
Fortunately for me, I have found entrepreneurship to be much more exciting and rewarding. I will stick around but for only the pay check, benefits and retirement. Those are things you just can't give up when you are past the half-way mark.
The saddest part about our department now is patrol officers are only a number. They have gotten rid of most of the "Specialized Units" and now the new officers just starting out really have nothing to work toward. I have been there there and done the "Specialized Units", and now I am quite happy where I am now. There's one other thing I would love to do and highly qualified to do before I retire, but not quite sure I can get there the way the Department is run now.

Anonymous said...

Whit Neal no better man for the job. This is the end of an era!

Anonymous said...

Whit is a fixture of the police department. I worked for Whit several years ago and his experience and care for his officers will surely be missed by those on the street. This is a loss to CMPD. How sad that a man had to give up something he has done for a good part of his life because life at CMPD has gotten that bad. We love you Whit for what you have stood for all these years and you will truly be missed!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Sgt. Neal. But I knew of him and his reputation as one of the very best. He is indeed a legend.

Thank you CP for bringing this "news" public and thank you Sgt Neal for your many many years of service.

Been There said...

Whit Neal has been a good officer over the years. But, it is time to go....37 yrs is enough. The department will still go on without you.....that's a fact. Ask any retired officer.

I don't know of any administration that was perfect....they all have their favorites that make rank over others that do just as good of a job. It's that way in all walks of life....

It's time for Whit to start a new chapter in his life.

Anonymous said...

I too worked with Whit. If you worked for him, you better shine your shoes and met him at the Auto Bell to clean your car. You can't police if you look dirty, uniform or car.

I hope we will hear more from him. He is the type of person to get on the radio and tell you like it is.

Then again, Whit may be ready to enjoy retirement. Congratulations on reaching this point.

Anonymous said...

Sgt. Neal is an incredible supervisor. I worked for him in the 90's when John Burnette and Andy Nobles were murdered. Sgt. Neal was the glue that held the team together. He was a true leader, a great listener, and a tough disciplinarian when needed! His troops knew what was expected of them and we all gave 110%, he didn't have to micro-manage us, we wanted to make him proud of us. If you had a question, he wouldn't answer it, he would always tell you to go and think about it, then come back and tell him the answer..he said after all you have been through the police academy and had the finest field training in the department you should know the answer! He is one of a kind and we are all much better for having him in our life for all those years! We love you Sgt.