Monday January 11, 2010
By now, most of you have had an opportunity to see news reports and learn about the charges levied against former CMPD officer Marcus Jackson. I have no doubt that you are concerned as I am about the effect that Jackson’s actions will have on the public’s perception of our department and our ability to maintain the trust of the community we serve.
As despicable as those actions are, I want you to know that this unfortunate event should not diminish or overshadow the tireless work that our employees have done and will continue to do. Because of their dedication and service, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has recorded an historic drop in the crime rate. There have been over 10,000 fewer victims of crime reported in 2009, and this was no coincidence. It was because of our officers’ focus and commitment to our citizens and the partnerships they are building within the community.
Though Jackson’s actions have cast a shadow of dishonor over this department, I have told each and every member to hold their heads high and be proud of their continued accomplishments. It is unfortunate that a member of this department has misused his authority to violate the public’s trust and to cause dishonor to the dedicated officers who serve with integrity. Some vex and rightly so how someone of this caliber ever had the privilege to wear the CMPD badge.
I have been as candid as possible about all the details regarding this case and I will be upfront again in saying that we did miss some valuable information about Jackson’s background that would have disqualified him from being hired.
In November of 2008, since Jackson’s hire, we began making several changes back then to improve our entire recruitment process.
* We placed a captain over recruitment to instill greater oversight and accountability in the hiring process.
* We added a major who functions as an executive director of both recruitment and training.
* Recruiters obtain background documents now under the Lexus/Nexus report, which contains information on a variety of things – criminal offenses, driving offenses, past and present addresses, names of relatives, possible associates.
* We’ve also included the checking of social networking activity in the investigation process.
* We also added a behavior focus interview to the process in which the applicant must respond to specific scenarios designed to observe the how applicant would possibly respond in a field situation.
* We have also modified our outsourcing of the background checks and began allowing our recruitment officers to conduct those background checks for thoroughness and a better understanding of who they are hiring.
* In addition, we’ve made changes to our recruiting staffing in order to provide a fresh set of eyes and an even greater efficiency in the process. With the newly assigned recruiters, we have strongly encouraged them to develop a rapport with the applicants to give recruiters a stronger voice in recommendations for hire and disqualifications, and not simply rely on a metrics system.
Even with these changes, please understand that at no time have we ever reduced, changed or modified the high standards that have long existed within the CMPD recruitment process.
Let me be crystal clear in saying that the same standards of excellence that existed three years ago, five years ago and even 10 years ago are the same high standards that apply today.
We would never compromise the integrity of the hiring process but we will continue to explore ways to improve it. We are considering additional changes to date – adding a human resource professional to the recruitment staff; adding civil request checks to be a part of the background process; researching pre-employment databases that provide multiple data sources; continuing the evaluation of recruit staff and the continued effectiveness of that staff, and any needed training; additional background checks, not only based on when a recruit comes into the academy or while they are in the academy but also an ongoing, random check of those through the graduation process.
I am confident that this department is made up of individuals who are committed to law enforcement, to the CMPD and most importantly to the community, and I continue to expect our officers to uphold, enforce and obey the law.
Some are asking why wasn’t Jackson immediately terminated after an earlier act of misconduct, which was not related to his recent arrest. The media reports as it relates to what Jackson was charged with do not accurately reflect the circumstances of his case.
I also want you to understand that I am committed to maintaining a fair and equitable disciplinary process. We cannot be so heavy-handed on every act of reported misconduct, but it is our continued effort to identify and respond to all violations of departmental policy. We will seek to address those violations in order to modify behavior and allow those members to move forward. However, when it is indicated that an individual needs to be separated from the department, the appropriate action will be taken.
Finally, I want all of us to recognize and appreciate the hard work and dedication of our employees that they give to this organization and to the city, and not take the actions of many by the actions of one. It is truly a challenging time for us but together we will forge ahead.
I believe that most citizens will not judge the entire department on the actions of one individual. However, we all have been victimized. A fraud has occurred against our citizens’ trust account whereby we have experienced a significant loss. Nevertheless, we can feel confident in knowing that the culprit has been identified and will be held accountable for this crime.
Now we must immediately begin rebuilding our trust account by working even harder with our citizens in expressing our dedication and commitment to serving their best interest. We will move forward together knowing we have the resolve and the perseverance to achieve success in 2010 and beyond.
And with that, I am happy to have the opportunity to talk to you tonight about some good news.