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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is the police department of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, United States, which includes the City of Charlotte. With 1,972 officers and 520 civilian staff as of 2019, covering an area of 438 square miles (1,130 km2) with a population of nearly 900,000, it is the largest police department between Washington D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia.[1]

The CMPD was formed in 1993 with the merger of the former Charlotte City Police Department and the Mecklenburg County Rural Police Department. Mecklenburg and neighboring Gaston County were the two counties out of the state's 100 counties to have county police in addition to the sheriff's offices. County police perform law enforcement tasks in the county with police powers anywhere in the county just like the sheriff, but the sheriff primarily handled the courts and jails. The North Carolina General Assembly approved legislation combining the two agencies.

The CMPD is by statute "county police" in that it has jurisdiction anywhere in Mecklenburg County.[2] The unique status of this situation makes the CMPD "metro" police.[3]

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
Common nameCharlotte Police Department
Agency overview
Preceding agencies
  • Charlotte Police
  • Mecklenburg County Police
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionCharlotte, North Carolina, United States
Governing bodyCharlotte City Council
General nature
  • Local civilian police
  • Local civilian agency

Sworn members1,972 (2019)[1]
Agency executive
  • Kerr Putney, Chief of police
CMPD [23]


The CMPD is organized into the Office of the Chief of Police, who is assisted by two assistant chiefs. Under the Chief of Police are five deputy chiefs.

Patrol services fall under the Field Services Group, headed by a deputy chief. The Field Services Group is divided into four service areas, each headed by a major. Each service area comprises three to four patrol divisions, each headed by a captain. Each patrol division consists of two response areas, each headed by a lieutenant.[4]

Some groups contain bureaus, headed by majors. Each bureau is also organized into divisions, commanded by captains, and units, commanded by sergeants.[4]

As of June 2014, the department consisted of 1 chief of police, 5 deputy chiefs of police, 16 majors, 38 captains, 46 lieutenants, 148 sergeants and roughly 1550 officers.[5]

CMPD officers are issued the Smith and Wesson M&P .40.

Aviation Unit

Formed in 1971 through a Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration grant program. The department purchased a helicopter and initially trained 3 officers, adding 3 more officers within the first three months of operation. The unit was staffed 7 days a week, and covered 20 out of 24 hours a day.

In 1976 a Bell 206B Jet Ranger was purchased to replace the Bell 47 which was no longer being produced and difficult to find parts for. The Aviation Unit, when replaced as the primary unit, had flown more than 13,500 hours. In recent years the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has acquired new Bell 407 helicopters, which are now the primary patrol units. This helicopter has more advanced crime fighting features and capacities.

The unit has operated 45 years accident free. The aviation unit's primary mission can best be described as providing an aerial platform to support the Officers of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.


The department maintains a tactical team for high-risk warrant service, search warrant execution, standoffs, manhunts and critical incidents. The officers are specially-trained and carry tactical gear in their take-home vehicles. They perform other primary duties (patrol, detective, etc.) when not in SWAT call outs or training. The SWAT team also includes several Paramedic from the Mecklenburg EMS Agency (MEDIC) that train with and go on call outs to provide care for the team members.

Bike Patrol

Starting in 1991, CMPD began its Bike Patrol program in the uptown area. Beginning with just two officers, the Bike Patrol has grown to over 200 full-time officers and community coordinators throughout different districts of the city. The success of the CMPD Bike Patrol is due largely to the department's emphasis on community policing and its impact on the community.

When the unit started to grow, officer training became an issue. In 1995 the CMPD chose the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association (L.E.B.A.) as its source for Bike Patrol training. The Law Enforcement Bicycle Association provides training in every phase of bike patrol procedures. All instructors are actively involved in bike patrol schools throughout the year, both in-service and regional.

Other special units include school resource officer, traffic accident investigation (which focuses on speed and DWI enforcement) and police dog patrol.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport

On December 15, 2012 the city transitioned the CDIA Police into a division of CMPD, thus creating the CMPD Airport Division (Division 28). All Airport Police officers are now CMPD officers.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Police Department

The school district supports and maintains its own police department. All uniformed officers are trained School Resource Officers, but not all are assigned a specific school and some are patrol officers between schools. There are four detectives, a Chief and Deputy Chief. While originally deputized as special sheriff's deputies by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff and then temporarily sworn under the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, all sworn officers are now sworn under the authority of the Board of Education and are employees of the school district. In addition to SRO's, Patrol officers and Detectives, the department also has its own dispatch center and clerical support staff.

Bomb squad

CMPD's Bomb Squad was established in 1971 and consisted of only two officers. The first major piece of equipment was an open-vent containment vessel that was purchased with federal funds. The bomb squad still has and uses that same containment vessel.

The unit has grown in size and sophistication to meet and exceed the growing threats from domestic and international terrorists, and the threatened use of weapons of mass destruction.

When the unit first formed, the equipment available to bomb technicians consisted of a briefcase full of hand tools, some rope and a homemade "water-cannon" made from galvanized pipe and wood.

Today, the Bomb Squad has two fully equipped response vehicles and the most sophisticated bomb detection, disruption and protective equipment available. A remote-controlled robot, remote controlled X-ray machines, various bomb suits and chemical/biological suits, and a myriad of various other tools and equipment are in the bomb squad's arsenal of tools. The bomb squad regularly trains and is able to operate in almost any environment.

All of the department's hazardous devices technicians are certified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Hazardous Devices School. The CMPD also has two explosive detection dogs. The bomb squad has the ability to call on an additional hazardous devices technician and two explosive detection dogs that work for the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Department.[6]

Citizens On Patrol

The CMPD has an unpaid volunteer police program known as the Citizens on Patrol. CMPD citizen officers assist the department with uniformed patrols and provide crowd and vehicular control at special events, riots,accidents and fire scenes, checking for abandoned vehicles and graffiti as well as visiting businesses and residential locations to enforce handicapped and fire lane parking violations. Volunteers also patrol parks, schools, businesses, hotels, and residential neighborhoods. Patrol duties include observing and reporting any unusual or suspicious activities to CMPD officers. While on patrol, volunteers can pick up found property, direct traffic at vehicle collisions, and assist disabled motorists.

Citizens on Patrol volunteers educate the public on the need for reserving parking spaces for individuals with disabilities as well as ensure fire lanes remain available for emergency vehicles. Citizen officers are empowered to issue citations when vehicles parked in handicapped spaces do not properly display a handicapped parking permit or when vehicles are illegally parked in a designated fire lane

Each Citizens on Patrol volunteer must attend the CMPD's Citizens Academy in addition to approximately 50 hours of Citizens on Patrol training, which includes:

  • Familiarization with CMPD procedures and equipment.

  • Traffic direction and driver training.

  • Participation in ride-alongs with current Citizens on Patrol to observe duty performance.

  • CPR, conflict resolution, and crowd control.

Citizens Review Board

In 2013, press reports indicated that the Citizens Review Board had ruled against citizens complaining of police misconduct in every case brought before the panel in its fourteen-year history.[7]

Rank structure

TitleInsigniaInsignia (dress uniform cuff)Positions
Chief of Police
4 Gold Stars.svg
5 gold stripesDepartment Head
Assistant Chief
2 Gold Stars.svg
4 gold stripesMulti-Group
Deputy Chief
Colonel Gold-vector.svg
4 gold stripesGroup CO
US-O4 insignia.svg
3 gold stripesBureau or Service Area
Shirt color whiteCaptain
Captain insignia gold.svg
2 gold stripesDivision[8]
US-O1 insignia.svg
Gold stripeResponse Area[8]
MPDC Sergeant Stripes.png
Police Officer

Introduced in 2008, response area commanders oversaw response areas within a district, and held the rank of staff sergeant. The rank of response area commander (staff sergeant)[9] served as a stop-gap rank before the rank of lieutenant was officially approved as a replacement.[3] The rank of lieutenant, used by the Charlotte Police Department until the 1990s, was reintroduced in 2011 for response area commanders; 26 sergeants were promoted to lieutenant in January 2012,[10] and by 2013 all response area commanders had been regraded as lieutenants.[11][12] However, the rank of staff sergeant was retained through 2014, when the remaining holders of the rank were promoted to lieutenant.[13][14]

The insignia of the Chief of Police was two gold stars until 2014, when Chief Rodney D. Monroe upgraded it to four stars.[15] The two-star rank of assistant chief was created in 2017.[16]


Breakdown of the makeup of the rank and file of Charlote-Mecklenburg Police Department:[17]

  • Male: 86%

  • Female: 14%

  • White: 80%

  • Black: 18%

  • Hispanic: 1%

  • Asian: 1%


Shooting of Jonathan Ferrell

On September 13, 2013, 23-year-old Jonathan Ferrell was shot ten times and killed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Officer Randall Kerrick, after Ferrell's car broke down and he had knocked on a person's door for help in the early hours of the morning. Police arrived at the scene in response to a report of suspicious behavior and possible breaking and entering. Ferrell was unarmed, refused police orders to stop, and continued running towards Kerrick. Ferrell was first Tasered and then shot. A lawsuit filed by Ferrell's family against the city was settled for $2.25 million in 2015. Kerrick is currently being tried for voluntary manslaughter. On August 21, 2015, the manslaughter charge was declared a mistrial on the basis of 8-4 jurors (in favor of acquittal).[18]

Shooting of Keith Lamont Scott

The shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old African American man, occurred on the afternoon of September 20, 2016, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Plain-clothes police officers arrived at an apartment complex about a mile from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to search for another man for whom they had outstanding warrants. Once there, they saw Scott in his SUV allegedly smoking cannabis and handling a handgun. They left and called for backup, as they were not marked as police officers at the time. Once other officers arrived, they approached Scott's vehicle with weapons drawn and ordered him to drop his gun and exit the vehicle. Scott did not initially respond. The original unmarked officers, now wearing CMPD plate carriers, moved to the rear of Scott's vehicle and broke out a rear window, presumably to pressure Scott out. Scott exited the vehicle, gun in hand, and stood in front of several alert officers. The officers ordered him to drop the gun a total of 17 times, which he allegedly refused to do. Officer Brentley Vinson (a Black African American & two-year veteran of the police force) fatally shot Scott; he has been placed on paid administrative leave.[19]

The shooting sparked riots, which continued on into the morning of the next day and subsequent night.

The shooting occurred in the parking lot of the Village at College Downs apartment complex on Old Concord Road, where CMPD officers were searching for an unrelated suspect with outstanding warrants.[20] Scott, who was parked in the lot, allegedly exited his vehicle armed with a handgun, and then immediately returned to his vehicle.[20] Mistaking Scott for the suspect they were looking for, officers began to approach Scott's vehicle when he again exited the car, still armed. The officers then allegedly gave Scott numerous loud verbal warnings to drop his weapon, which many witnesses at the scene heard.[20] When Scott allegedly refused to comply, Officer Brentley Vinson fatally shot Scott, who died at the scene.

Despite neither woman being at the scene, and the sister being asleep, both Scott's sister and daughter claimed that he was in his car reading a book when he was gunned down by the officer, but no book was found there.[21][22] CMPD Chief Kerr Putney told reporters that a handgun was seized at the scene, and a photo of the gun was released by WBTV.[22] Several witnesses at the scene also observed the weapon, and not a book.


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