In June, Charlotte City Council unanimously voted to request that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department adopt the 8 Can’t Wait initiative created by nonprofit police reform organization, Campaign Zero. However, many of the proposed policy changes related to 8 Can’t Wait are already part of the CMPD’s policies, now the department is seeking more feedback, though officials say the response hasn’t been quite diverse enough.
On June 15, CMPD launched the 8 Isn’t Enough Community Feedback Survey, posting it on all the department’s social media accounts. The survey is seven questions long, but only the first three questions are relevant to policing and reform.
More than a month in, CMPD is now looking for more response from Black community members on ways that CMPD can further reform themselves for the safety of the public, according to QCity Metro. The report states that “So far, white women have answered the survey in disproportionate numbers.”
Some community members took to social media to voice their concerns about Black people wanting reform but not getting involved, which sparked debate from local community leaders who had not heard about the survey more than six weeks after its launch.
Questions arose about the amount of effort that CMPD put into outreach to advertise the survey and target communities from which they were looking for feedback.
A CMPD spokesperson says the survey was “promoted heavily on our social platforms.” Posts about the survey were made on June 15, 17 and 29 on Facebook and June 15, 19 and 25 on Twitter, with no evidence of paid targeted advertising.
Transparency requires engagement
“This is my first time being aware of this survey. I think I do a decent job of staying up on current affairs. Hell, I didn’t even see this mentioned on the news channels I watch. Exactly how did this get advertised by them I wonder. Now, I’m interested to know how many and which different media outlets did they use,” one commenter stated.
“When did they put this out and to whom?” another added.
The CMPD spokesperson said the department leveraged the NAACP, Latin American Coalition, City Housing and Neighborhood Services, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee and local clergy members for dissemination of information on the survey.
Accountability and reform take effort when it comes to engaging with community members who may not have enough trust in the police to even submit a response. CMPD plans to “align policy with community expectations” in addition to Chief Johnny Jennings’ four values of “professional accountability, crime management, community collaboration and employee wellness.” The survey questions were developed with the intent to get community feedback on how to meld the four values with the feedback.
The department has been continuously called upon to implement reform and practice more transparency, including most recently when the community requested an independent audit of CMPD’s finances to find potential areas where tax money could be reallocated. Budget and Effectiveness committee chair Ed Driggs shot that proposal down.
Request for reform misses policies that are already in place
As for the 8 Can’t Wait, the goal of the initiative was to bring transformative change to police departments around the country by adopting eight policies that have been shown to decrease violent interactions with police by 72%. Councilmember Larken Egelston, who introduced the motion at a June 8 city council meeting, received support from the mayor and other council members to adopt these policies.
The 8 policies include:
- Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
- Require de-escalation
- Require warning before shooting
- Exhaust all alternatives before shooting
- Duty to intervene
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles
- Establish use of force continuum
- Require all force be reported
While these eight initiatives may look like progressive change, CMPD has already had policies in place that touch on a majority of them. Some changes, such as the banning of strangleholds and chokeholds, have been a part of the department’s policy since 1987.
The only recent policy change occurred on June 4, one day before Egelston tweeted out a draft of a Charlotte City Council resolution, when CMPD updated it’s new neglect of duty policy to include, “Officers will take appropriate and immediate action in any situation in which they know or should have known their failure to act would result in excessive response to resistance or egregious behavior which shocks the conscience.”
The department then shared info on Twitter about other ways in which their policies already align with the “8 Can’t Wait” initiative.
As communities around the world call for better accountability and transparency within their police departments, CMPD is not exempt. After the “8 Can’t Wait” initiative was requested of them, that’s when CMPD came back with the “8 Isn’t Enough” initiative, and are now hoping to hear back from community members to keep the conversation going on reform.