Kerr Putney Named New CMPD Chief

City manager selects Rodney Monroe's deputy for job
Logan Cyrus
Kerr Putney, right, seen here at a Charlotte City Council meeting with Chief Rodney Monroe last December.

Five weeks from today, CMPD Officer Randall Kerrick is slated to go on trial in Charlotte for the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell. When that trial begins on July 20, the police chief who charged Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter, Rodney Monroe, will no longer be leading the police department. One of his deputy chiefs, Kerr Putney, will have that job. 

City Manager Ron Carlee made the official announcement today: Putney will be sworn in on June 29, two days before Monroe retires on July 1.

Putney's selection can be interpreted in many ways, but the most obvious is this: City leaders trust Monroe's judgment. He urged them to select a replacement from within the department, and they did. It was the first time in 25 years that the city did not pick an outsider for the chief's job. 

Putney, who is a 23-year veteran of CMPD, began his acceptance speech with a small joke. "My mom and the chief told me I got to work on smiling more," he said, and then scowled for the cameras.

He was kidding, but he will have to do a lot of smiling to make it through a month that promises to be filled with national media scrutiny, protests, and all the tension inherent in a trial in which a white police officer is charged with killing an unarmed black man.

One of Monroe's greatest strengths has been his ability to relate to the people the police department serves. A feature story in the July issue of Charlotte magazine details this strategy as well as Monroe's actions immediately following Ferrell's death. As police chief, Monroe has been a central part of the recent "Cops & Barbers" community forums, designed to address conflicts between black citizens and police. He recently told me that "open, honest dialogue," along with other training and community outreach efforts, it what he thinks will keep Charlotte from descending into "total chaos" during the Kerrick trial. 

Kerr Putney will find out.

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