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CMPD Responds to Group Recommendations Resulting From 2023 Incident

Group aimed to address de-escalation, response to resistance, and marijuana use and enforcement

An officer can be seen punching Christina Pierre in the face during an altercation for which an officer has since been suspended, CMPD response
CMPD responded Tuesday to each of the 17 recommendations made by the Community and Police Collaboration Group, formed in November 2023 in response to the above arrest. (Still from anonymous bystander video released by video)

CMPD on Tuesday released responses to each of the 17 recommendations made by the Community and Police Collaboration Group (CPCG), formed in November 2023 after officers were filmed violently arresting Christina Pierre and her husband Anthony Lee outside of a Bojangles where they both work on South Tryon Street. 

The group’s recommendations aimed to address de-escalation, response to resistance, and marijuana use and enforcement.

The CPCG comprised multiple local organizations and agencies including the department itself, City of Charlotte’s Community Relations Committee, the Citizens Review Board, the NAACP, the Latin American Coalition, clergy members, Action NC and the George Floyd Global Memorial. 

“The group met for several months resulting in constructive conversations between the CMPD and a diverse group of community stakeholders,” read a release on Tuesday. 

Specific changes to be implemented by the CMPD, according to the department, include creating a dedicated de-escalation addendum to the existing Response to Resistance Policy; improving Early Intervention System reporting, including adding aggregated data for the CMPD’s Internal Affairs annual report; and including family members impacted by police violence to be incorporated into recruit training.

The department says it is already coordinating with Paris Stevens, George Floyd’s cousin, to share testimonials during academy training.

CMPD also states that it agrees with the group’s recommendation that the department expand its CARE Team, which deploys licensed social workers to respond to low-level calls for service instead of police officers, and is currently working with City Manager Marcus Jones’ office on next steps to do that. 

Many of the department’s responses to each recommendation, which can both be viewed in full here, were vague commitments to take specific actions into consideration or simple acknowledgements that a policy already exists. 

One recommendation, for example, read, “Peroneal nerve should not be allowed to be struck repeatedly before reassessment techniques are implemented,” to which the CMPD response stated, “CMPD agrees with the recommendation that officers should continuously assess the need for peroneal nerve strikes. Officers are trained to assess if any pain compliance techniques are working or not. Once compliance is achieved, officers are taught to stop using that technique.”

The department was least responsive to the four recommendations relating to marijuana use and enforcement, including a direct refusal to advocate for legalization of the drug, though the department did confirm that it will implement new implicit bias training in 2025.

CMPD officers restraining and striking a woman at a bus stop. Charges against her were later dropped
A still from footage showing CMPD officers restraining and striking a woman at a bus stop in November.

Officer Vincent Pistone was found to have used excessive force during the Nov. 13 arrests of Pierre and Lee and was handed down a 40-hour suspension, while six other officers were exonerated by a CMPD Internal Affairs investigation.   

All charges against Pierre and Lee, who were originally approached because they were believed to be smoking marijuana but were not, were eventually dropped. 

“The Community and Police Collaboration Group has worked diligently to address critical issues and provide actionable recommendations to enhance community-police relations in Charlotte-Mecklenburg,” said Tonya Jameson, a group facilitator and Citizens Review Board chair, in Tuesday’s release. “We remain committed to fostering transparency, trust and positive change within our community.” 

Robert Dawkins, political director with Action NC’s SAFE Coalition, said that most of the conversations during the group’s meetings covered broader issues around police and law, which made things frustrating for long-time police accountability activists like himself and Corine Mack with the local NAACP chapter. 

In the end, however, he was happy to see any attempt to engage more community members in the police accountability conversation. 

“For people to feel like they got heard, they got heard, but is there anything that came out of there that will change that wasn’t already on the books? Not much,” Dawkins told Queen City Nerve.  

“Everything that you can want from police — use of force, response to resistance — we’ve passed all of that,” he continued. “It’s not like we’re going to come in the door and come up with some things we haven’t thought of before. We don’t have a policy problem, we have more of an implementation problem.” 

Learn more: CMPD Walks Back ‘8 Can’t Wait’ Pronouncements As Work Continues

Dawkins said he went into the group’s meetings with the single objective of getting the CARE Team expanded, so he felt that overall the work was worth the time. 

“Some people might call it a dog-and-pony show, I wouldn’t go that far because it did allow people to be heard,” he said. “I didn’t go in there with these high expectations; I like to be strategic.”

Dawkins gave credit to CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings for his willingness to engage community members, stating “he does have an open-door policy, when something comes up he doesn’t go and hide,” as compared to his predecessors. 

“Community collaboration is at the core of our mission,” Jennings stated in Tuesday’s release. “If we are going to better ourselves and better our agency, we have to work together with community at the head of the table. 

“When I announced the formation of this group, I knew that conversations would bring challenging questions and recommendations, and we welcome that constructive feedback,” he continued. “As we implement some of these changes at CMPD following the conclusion of this group, my hope is that we will see positive changes as we continue to serve the City of Charlotte.”

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