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5 Things to Know: Sheriff’s Office to Eliminate Regulatory Traffic Stops

...and four more stories from Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2022

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Garry McFadden
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden speaks to reporters at a press conference in February. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

Sheriff’s Office to Eliminate Regulatory Traffic Stops

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) announced this week that the department has adopted a new policy to end regulatory traffic stops for non-moving violations in its most recent amendment to its Uniform Traffic Enforcement Policy

According to the new policy, deputies may charge a driver with regulatory offenses only after having stopped a vehicle for a more serious and/or potentially hazardous violation; however, regulatory offenses cannot be the sole basis for a traffic stop.

Examples of regulatory offenses include financial responsibility violations (i.e. no insurance), vehicle-inspections violations, certain driver’s license violations such as driving while license revoked, certain vehicle equipment violations such as improper mufflers, non-working head and rear lamps, window tinting, and a number of other non-moving violations enumerated in the policy.

MCSO is requiring deputies to acknowledge receipt of the new policy and successfully pass an exam that specifically tests deputies on their knowledge of the recent changes, which took effect on Sept. 19, according to a release sent out on Thursday. 

In an effort to address the racial disparities that are apparent in traffic stops in North Carolina, organizers with the Forward Justice and Mecklenburg County chapter of the North Carolina Second Chance Alliance presented the proposal to eliminate non-safety-related regulatory traffic stops to Sheriff Garry McFadden and his staff. During the presentation, Forward Justice attorneys emphasized how racial disparities are reinforced by investigative and regulatory stops.

According to the release, their data showed that, although traffic stops are the most common police interaction, in North Carolina, Black people are about 22% of the population yet subject to 30% of traffic stops. Comparatively, white people are 69% of the population but subject to 60% of traffic stops — making Black drivers 95% more likely to be stopped in North Carolina. Additionally, data from the UNC School of Government Criminal Innovation Lab shows that five of the top 10 most charged offenses in Mecklenburg County are regulatory in nature.

“Traffic stops can lead to harmful, and sometimes deadly interactions, particularly for people of color,” stated Whitley Carpenter, senior criminal justice counsel for Forward Justice, in the release. “By eliminating traffic stops for these low-level infractions that do not contribute to public safety, we can begin to minimize unnecessary and potentially harmful interactions between law enforcement and communities and address the racial disparities clearly inherent in these stops.”

The policy does not apply to CMPD, which carries out a large majority of traffic stops in Mecklenburg County. It’s unclear what share of traffic stops are carried out by MCSO deputies, though the department reported in December 2018 that deputies were doing about 9,000 traffic stops a year. 

MCSO Chief Deputy Rodney Collins will join Carpenter and McFadden at a press conference at the MCSO headquarters for a press conference to discuss the new policy on Monday, Oct. 3. 


Thousands Lose Power as Result of Hurricane Ian

Thousands of people in the Charlotte area lost power Friday as a result of wind caused by Hurricane Ian, which made its second landfall in South Carolina that afternoon and sent wind gusts above 40 miles per hour through Charlotte. The worst aspects of the storm arrived at around 3 p.m. and continued well into the evening, downing trees throughout the city and causing some flooding. No serious injuries related to the storm were reported in Charlotte at the time of this writing.  

As of 6 p.m. on Friday, there were about 8,000 people without power in the Charlotte area, mostly due to trees crashing down on power lines. The number was up and down throughout the afternoon and evening as crews scurried to fix issues and new outages were reported. 

Things are expected to have calmed down greatly by Saturday morning, with the weather forecast for Charlotte FC’s Fan Appreciation Night at Bank of America Stadium looking mild. 

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CMPD Releases Footage of December Shooting

CMPD followed a judge’s order to release footage from an incident in December 2021 in which an officer was shot in the shoulder while responding to a call about a young man who was allegedly breaking into cars and had pointed a gun at a resident who confronted him.

The video shows officer Elliot Whitley arrive at the scene on Winged Elm Court in east Charlotte and immediately confront the suspect, who attempts to flee. Shortly into the chase, the 14-year-old suspect turns and fires on Whitley from a short distance, striking him in the shoulder. Whitley returns fire, emptying his clip at the suspect as he runs away, but does not strike him.

 

Other officers took the teen into custody shortly thereafter. According to CMPD, the suspect was found to have an extensive felony history including charges in 46 criminal cases dating back as far as 2014. 

According to CMPD, Whitley was transported to an area hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The CMPD Internal Affairs Bureau has already investigated and ruled that Officer Whitley was justified in his actions, including returning fire, due to the deadly threat posed by the suspect. 


CMS Begins Search for New Superintendent with Community Outreach

You now have a chance to give your input on who should take the most important job that nobody wants: the next superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

With interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh stepping down next June, the CMS Board of Education (BOE) is working with Charlotte-based consulting firm Civility Localized to conduct community engagement around replacing him, according to a release sent out on Tuesday. The efforts begin with a public survey that officials hope will provide some insight into what priorities should steer their search.

The community outreach campaign will last through Dec. 13, at which time the input gathered will be presented to the BOE. The search will begin in January 2023, with an expectation of hiring the superintendent by summer.

“The goal is to gain as many perspectives as possible,” stated Civility Localized Founder Christine Edwards, a CMS graduate, in the release. “We hope to illuminate the needs and priorities of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.”


Columbus County Sheriff Under Fire Again

On Wednesday, WECT News 6 in Wilmington published recordings of Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene making racist comments about his own Black employees, some of whom he believed had “snitched” about him to his political opponents, who are also Black.

“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of these Black bastards,” Greene said on a phone call. “I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there.”

The call was recorded in 2018 by Captain Jason Soles, who is now running for sheriff against Greene. Greene was already under investigation at the time of the phone call and had been temporarily replaced by Soles while that investigation was carried out. 

On Friday, President Deborah Dicks Maxwell of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and Curtis Hill, president of the Columbus County branch of the NAACP, released a joint statement that read, in part, “Columbus County, and in particular its Black residents, deserve better. We deserve accountability. To restore dignity and confidence in the office of the Columbus County Sheriff, we demand a thorough investigation of all activities conducted by this office since the beginning of Sheriff Greene’s tenure, by all relevant authorities — including the State Board of Investigation and the federal government.”


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