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5 Things To Know: New CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings Sworn In

June 28 - July 3, 2020

Kerr Putney Retires, New CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings Sworn In

Former CMPD Chief Kerr Putney retired this week, stepping down from his position on Tuesday, with new Chief Johnny Jennings taking his oath on Wednesday. Putney has already planned to retire, though the timeline for doing such has changed multiple times. Putney originally planned to retire at the end of 2019 and return later to lead the department again in the lead-up to and during the Republican National Convention. When state officials called that plan into question, however, he decided he would stay through September when the convention would be over. 

One would think that settled it, until it was announced in early June that the convention wouldn’t even be coming to Charlotte anymore due to concerns over perfectly logical COVID-19 restrictions and the fact that Gov. Roy Cooper wouldn’t guarantee that President Trump would be allowed to pack Spectrum Arena full of people. At that, Kerr Putney saw an out, and on June 30 he hung up his CMPD Chief hat for good. 

New CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings joined the department as a member of the 108th recruit class in October 1992. Jennings led planning and operations for the NBA All-Star game in 2019 and led intelligence and coordination efforts for the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Queen City Nerve publisher Justin LaFrancois spoke with Jennings on Friday, June 26, to discuss disciplinary policy, increasing access to personnel records and potentially allocating funds away from the police department and toward grassroots crime-prevention organizations. (The discussion begins at the 17-minute mark in the video below). 

Centene Corporation to Make Home in Charlotte

Centene Corporation announced Wednesday that it will build its new East Coast headquarters in Charlotte, creating more than 3,237 new jobs in the city.

The health-care intermediary will invest more than $1 billion to develop a corporate campus in the University City neighborhood of north Charlotte that will house the 3,200 employees for the Fortune 50 company and feature an on-site daycare center and corporate “university” for professional development. In return, the corporation will receive around $388 million in tax incentives from the state, $26 million from Mecklenburg County and between $23.6 and $31.6 million from the city. 

member-owned companies
A look at plans for Centene’s new University City campus. (Photo courtesy of Centene)

The campus will be developed in four phases and include two office buildings, a data center, and the corporate university center. Available roles will include technology, operations, customer service, finance, human resources, medical management positions, and other corporate positions with an average annual salary of $100,089. More than 1,000 of the new positions are operations roles with an average salary of $63,000.

The announcement represents the largest economic development project in the history of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Business Investment Grant program by jobs and capital investment. It is the largest project to be announced in North Carolina by job creation since the Job Development Investment Grant program began.

State Reports Largest One-Day COVID-19 Spike in Mecklenburg

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported that Mecklenburg County saw its biggest one-day spike of COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 430 new cases being logged. According to state data released on Friday, the county has seen 12,233 total cases, with the daily total averaging above 300 and trending upwards. 

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Mecklenburg County residents has been rising. (Courtesy of Mecklenburg County Public Health)

According to county data released on Thursday morning, the county had seen 11,019 total cases at that point. The disparity between county and state data is because the county only counts Mecklenburg residents who test positive while the state counts anyone who tests positive at a Mecklenburg County site. According to the county, 152 Mecklenburg County residents have died due to the virus. All but two had underlying health conditions and nearly two out of three deaths were connected to active outbreaks at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. 

NAACP Challenges Graham Ordinance Infringing Right to Assemble

The Alamance County NAACP filed a lawsuit against the mayor of Graham and the Alamance County Sheriff this week against an ordinance that effectively bans protests in the small town located between Durham and Winston-Salem. 

The ordinance requires any group of two or more people who want to protest to apply for a permit to do so 24 hours or more in advance. The county sheriff has also stated publicly that he does not plan on issuing any protest permits in the foreseeable future. The NAACP and eight other plaintiffs in the suit called for a restraining order against the ordinance, stating that it is a clear violation of their First and Fourteenth amendment rights. You can read more about the Battle of Alamance County (a name we just made up) from our news partners at Triad City Beat.

Yearly Homicides on Pace to Match Last Year’s Total

Three murders occurred in two days early this week just as we reached the halfway point of 2020, bringing the total number of homicides in Charlotte this year to 54. There were 52 homicides in the city at the same point last year, and there ended up being 108 total. 

At around 5:36 p.m. on Monday, police responded to a shooting call in the Enderly Park neighborhood of west Charlotte and found 44-year-old Lawrence Crank shot inside a convenience store on the corner of Tuckaseegee Road and State Street. Crank was transported to the hospital by MEDIC, but later died. In a separate incident later that night, 34-year-old Channing Byers was shot and killed in front of a convenience store on Trinity Road near Hornets Nest Park in north Charlotte. 

Two teens were shot in an incident on Beatties Ford Road on Tuesday afternoon, and one later died. A Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s deputy was working off-duty on Beatties Ford Road  near the I-85 interchange when he heard shots ring out at a nearby business. The deputy ran to the scene and found 14-year-old Terreon Geter suffering from a gunshot wound. Geter was transported to the hospital by MEDIC, but later died. Police later found a second 16-year-old victim near Frazier Park who had left the scene and tried to get to a hospital. He was transported by MEDIC with non-life-threatening injuries. The shooting occurred less than a mile from where four people were shot and killed during Juneteenth celebrations on the same street a week before. 

Terreon Geter

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