Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Charlotte Civil Service Board Upholds Captain Chuck Adkins Termination
A civilian panel has upheld the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s firing of a formerly high-ranking police captain accused of failing to report that an assault victim came to his home seeking help.
Members of the Charlotte Civil Service Board reached their decision after deliberating for four hours Wednesday. That followed nearly three days of testimony about former Capt. Chuck Adkins.
After the board’s decision, police attorney Mark Newbold said the department was pleased.
“The message sent is that officers are held to a standard if they’re in a situation where somebody’s life may be in jeopardy.”
Adkins and his attorney declined to comment, and left the hearing room shortly after the decision was announced.
The department has said Adkins broke CMPD policy by failing to immediately alert law enforcement about his Sept. 19 conversation with a woman who came to his home while he was in his garage. His marked CMPD cruiser was parked outside.
She had been kidnapped, handcuffed to a toilet and beaten. The policy dictates that officers report domestic violence when there are signs of physical injury.
The woman, who was bruised and had caked blood on her face, said her boyfriend had hit her.
Adkins listened to her story, then let her use his cell phone to contact a friend for a ride. He told her she should report the crime to authorities, but he didn’t contact police that night or the next day.
Two days later, Adkins saw the woman’s picture and a story about her disappearance in the newspaper. He phoned missing persons detectives, who used the number in his cell phone to get in contact with the woman.
In testimony, officers have said the woman was a prostitute and kidnapping victim. The case is now part of a federal investigation. Officers testified the Department of Homeland Security has interviewed the woman.
Adkins has contended that he was off-duty when the woman walked up, and was groggy from a sleeping pill and a glass of wine. In testimony on Tuesday, Adkins said: “I’m telling you I couldn’t have acted in the capacity of a police officer that evening.”
In his 21 years with the department, Adkins has been posted to several high-profile jobs: head of Internal affairs, captain over the Central Division and overseeing the communications division.
But he was linked to two incidents that embarrassed CMPD last year – the situation with the assault victim, and a case in which he was accused of placing dog feces in a neighbor’s mailbox.
Marc Gustafson, Adkins’ attorney, said he is not without fault in the case, but that the facts “don’t warrant the termination of a 21-year-veteran of the police department.”
Even the victim in this case spoke highly of Adkins’ actions, Gustafson said.
“Captain Adkins gave (the victim) what she needed that night,” he said. “She didn’t need to be interrogated. She just needed somebody to listen. That certainly doesn’t absolve Captain Adkins of anything, but it’s something we should take into consideration.”
But Bob McDonnell, an attorney for CMPD, said that Adkins, as a senior officer with two decades of experience, was in a key position to get the woman more help.
“I find it hard to believe that you think the best thing to do in that situation is place that young woman in that car with someone she says was a friend,” McDonnell said. “It should be obvious to anyone: call 911.”
McDonnell said Adkins could have conveyed crucial information about the victim to police. She told him that she was a dancer, that she’d been handcuffed and beaten in a home in Adkins’ neighborhood.
“His explanation was, ‘I fulfilled my duty by letting her use my phone and putting her in a car with someone I didn’t know.’ ”
McDonnell said Adkins’ behavior was unbecoming an officer, and an embarrassment to the department, especially given his rank and extensive training.
“It’s embarrassing that a captain who’s been to the FBI school, doesn’t think he has a duty to call 911.”
Adkins can appeal his firing in Superior Court, but has not indicated if he will do so.