If you are like Cedar, life means changes and if you've lived in Charlotte all your life some changes are great Panthers, Hornets, Uptown Nightlife and some disheartening, tax and spend liberals running our City/County government with a bazaar social agenda mission and a once great Police Department that has some serious morale issues that go far beyond pay scale of rank and file boots on the street.
So it is not surprising that one now retired CMPD Officer would send this letter to Cedar Posts. The letter is unedited since my grammar and punctuation skill make copy editors cringe, I'm not about to make changes, yet I my need to do so for clarity in the future, but it will be so noted.
I'd really like to see some serious feed back. While these are things I've know over the years I also think the public needs to hear more specifics from officers current and retired.
Since Human Resources doesn’t give retirees an exit interview, this is my exit interview. I realize there have been a lot of retirees over the last few years but these seasoned officers have a wealth of knowledge and they will be honest about issues within the department and how to make things better. Several people have tried to convince me to not send this out but I feel I must. I have been told not to send this because I have a good reputation. Well, I am sending this because I have a good reputation. Perhaps my good reputation will make people at CMPD sit up and take notice. I feel I must be the voice of those still here suffering in silence.
Officers are unable to express their true feelings and beliefs for fear of retaliation from command staff. I am their voice. I will not be a hire back and what I have to say is from the heart.
Over the last 28 or so years, I came to love my job. Of course there were ups and downs and times when I wanted to throw in the towel but overall, I LOVED my job. I always strived to be the best I could be. And I used to love CMPD but over the past four or so years, my love for CMPD has waned. My feelings for my employer did not reflect on my work though. I am leaving CMPD on good terms and have served proudly. But CMPD has caused me some heartache.
So here goes….To be honest, this writing was born out of the aftermath of the Officer Kerrick arrest. No matter what your opinion is of the shooting and the hasty arrest, it is a sore spot with me and many others. It is my opinion that CMPD threw Officer Kerrick under the bus. The September 2016 officer involved shooting that caused the infamous riots took months to investigate but Officer Kerrick was charged within 12 hours? A thorough investigation? No. I realize that command staff thinks we as a department have moved on, but there are many officers still upset over CMPD being so quick to judge one of its own. According to a deputy chief at a CEU training prior to the Kerrick trial, Officer Kerrick was charged due to the national anti-police sentiment.
That is no excuse to throw one of your own under the bus. Not only did this ruin Officer Kerrick’s life but it has had repercussions for his family and friends and CMPD.
Officer Kerrick should answer for his own actions not the actions of other officers across the country. Then, to top it all off, district captains go to roll calls to talk to the officers after all of command staff was shown the BWC video. Officers were told the BWC video looked bad for Officer Kerrick. Based on my investigation, most if not all, district Captains were given a script from the top and went to roll call and lied to their officers about the video even though they saw the video and knew what they were saying was a lie. This was confirmed by a Captain in that meeting. If the department was right in arresting Officer Kerrick based on the video, why did command staff have to lie? Being lied to is what causes me heartburn. What the Chief told the news media in a press conference was NOT what the video showed either. By the time everyone actually saw the video and were able to draw their own conclusions, our Chief was gone but the damage had already been done. Respected Captains and other command staff had LIED to us. But why should it surprise me? Our former chief rewarded two of his command staff with promotions after they lied for him in a demotion hearing.
Another incident that frustrates me happened a few years ago in Eastway. Several Eastway officers got into a use of force with a suspect. There were both black and white officers involved in the use of force against the black suspect. While their chain of command cleared them, internal affairs got involved. During the hearing, the white officers were told they were racist by two Majors in Internal Affairs. The comment was made without proof and based on the Majors’ own misguided feelings in my opinion.
The officers were given a week’s suspension for doing nothing wrong. You are saying, wait, how do I know they did nothing wrong? Well, after the officers appealed and WON their case a year later, a Deputy Chief actually apologized to the officers for the actions of the Majors who suspended them. The officers were told it should never have gone that far. The officers got their week of suspension back. So, yes, the officers did nothing wrong. What happened to the Majors who made the comment to begin with and gave the officers a week off without pay? Did they apologize for their comments and actions? No. Did they get a week of suspension? No. They were just moved to another unit. These officers were put through hell for a year and it ended with a great officer resigning and moving to another state to work outside law enforcement. These officers were wronged. The apology by a 3rd party was too little too late.
During my 28 years, I have seen and heard things within the department. Some truth and some rumors. Maybe these things weren’t illegal but they were unethical and immoral. Things such as changing or even deleting KBCOPS reports to protect another city employee have occurred. Stabbing others in the back to get ahead has become more frequent since 2007. Stretching the truth to get a warrant because “I know he did it but I can’t prove it” has become acceptable. Stretching the truth is the same as lying in my book. And probable cause is 51% not 40-45% for those who like to work in the gray area. Things of this nature are just wrong. We as a department need to treat people with respect and dignity yet we don’t and wonder why moral is at its lowest and no one wants to do this job.
Which brings me to my next point; I feel it is necessary to point out that if officers are selected to be in a special unit, they are not any more special than the rest of us. If they are assigned to a special unit, they can type up warrants and fill out the arrest processing paperwork just like a patrol officer. Everyone working together gets the job done quicker. The patch says Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department yet this is done on a daily basis.
Speaking of specialized investigative units, why does patrol get most of the cases to follow up? To those of us in patrol, it seems that the specialized units such as Robbery, DV, Fraud and now Youth Crimes get to pick and choose which cases they want. The rest get sent back to patrol where most of the time the overworked district detectives or in some cases patrol officers, are assigned the cases. To be honest, everyone’s overworked but you shouldn’t pass the buck. Take robbery as an example.
The centralized robbery unit is to work on commercial robberies and any robbery series.
So when Eastway got a commercial robbery with nothing taken, the robbery unit was contacted as per policy. Did they come in and work it? No. Apparently if nothing is taken in a commercial robbery then the district detectives are assigned the case. Soon afterwards, Eastway Division gets a series of three robberies (possibly more) they believe are all related across two districts but had not identified any suspects. The robbery unit was again contacted. This was a series, right? Did robbery come in and work the series? No. Eastway is told their district detectives can handle these cases as a “series” constitutes four and we had no suspects. It must be nice to pick and choose your cases. Why is it so hard for people to just do their job?
I am also very disturbed with what some younger detectives believe to be probable cause. During a robbery meeting in December 2015, the Robbery Sergeant commented that sometimes you have to get creative on the warrant affidavit to get it past the magistrate. Leave off the make of the white passenger car if one victim says it was a Toyota and another says it was a Honda. It was also stated in this meeting if the victim or witness didn’t say no in a lineup that meant yes. Hmmm….does anyone else have a problem with those comments?
Which brings me to my next gripe: Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). SOP’s are general guidelines not written in stone. In police work, is anything “standard”? No. We are required to adjust, adapt and overcome. Sometimes you can follow the SOP but sometimes you adjust and you do the right thing. If your unit would get a case where a district detective is called in and you want that case, get your ass into the office. Otherwise, if I come in, I get the case. As I have said before, we are all in this together and the end goal is to put away the bad guy.
I also feel I have been persecuted for my political beliefs. I am an outspoken Republican in a city of Democrats. Why else did a 47 year old, 110 lb. female end up on field force for the DNC?
Everyone from the police attorney’s office down including my own Sergeant asked why I was selected. According to the Major over field force in 2012, the district Captains sent the names to the Academy. Yet, my Captain told me she did not send my name in to be on field force. My Captain who wore her pink bedazzled Obama 2012 shirt around the office several times and at least once during a community meeting. My Captain who had a framed “Oh Yes He Did” Obama poster in her office. But a “NOBama” sticker gets removed from an officer’s desk? Interesting….double standard?
Why yes! How is it that City Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera can say to the news media in a public forum that anyone who voted for Donald Trump is racist and should not serve on the city council yet I say something about Obama voters not voting in the next election to my friends in the office at my desk and I get a negative incident because someone not part of the conversation was offended? Why is there a double standard?
The City of Charlotte nor CMPD follows the #1 mission statement: We value our employees. CMPD needs to appreciate its employees by standing by them and being understanding to the needs of individuals and families. Moral is the lowest I have seen in 28 years. This is a low paying, thankless job with little compensation but a little compassion and appreciation go a long way. Officers are asked to forfeit more and more of their time and days off to work special events throughout the city yet our raises don’t cover the increase in health care cost.
When the City spends millions of dollars renovating Bank of America stadium, the Spectrum Center, and Bojangles Coliseum, builds a trolley, and forgives the millions of dollars owed the city by the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it is hard to accept the city’s explanation there is not enough money in the budget for employee raises.
Being on the pay plan committee, I have heard the excuses that employee raises come from a different budget “bucket” and renovations come from another budget “bucket” but when the voters tell the city they don’t want to spend money on something but the city really wants to, the city finds a way to finance it. And the FOP should not be the ones going to City Council and asking for raises; the request needs to come from the top and it needs to be done in person by the Chief.
This next gripe is minor compared to the world’s problems but when a deputy chief is assigned to a district office that is fairly new and immediately requests (and gets) his office repainted, a new Keurig machine with its own water line and a marked “Deputy Chief” parking spot under the awning in the shift change lane, it’s not right. Oh, yes, you are the deputy chief and you can do whatever you want. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Especially when officers are told there is no more overtime because of the September 2016 riots. This is not how you gain respect.
As for Command Staff, a great leader LEADS. There is a difference between a supervisor and a leader. A leader talks to and LISTENS to his or her people. There should be no fear of retaliation for speaking the truth and giving constructive criticism. A great leader can take criticism. A leader can also admit when they are wrong. This department has many supervisors but only a few true leaders.
On a closing note, the City should also pay retired officers to come back to court once they retire. It is the right thing to do. The officer did his job so it is only fair that the City pay the officer to come back to court and to put the bad guy away if the officer is needed.
Again, these are just things that I feel need to be said. If this gets command staff at CMPD talking about how to improve moral and to make this department great again, I did my job.
You can make a positive change in the department by having character and living by the Golden Rule.
Matthew 7:12 says “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This world would be a much better place if we lived by the Golden Rule.
To be honest, this is just the tip of what I want to say, but if I say too much, you won’t bother to listen.
I have been told the people that need to hear this either don’t know what is going on or don’t care. I hope the latter is wrong for the good of CMPD.
These are just my thoughts and if I had an exit interview, I would have said the same thing. Officers are leaving in droves but it is not just about the money. It is about knowing the department has your back and appreciates you.