CMPD Archives - Hood Hargett Breakfast Club

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s community relations efforts

Chief Kerr Putney

Hood Hargett Breakfast Club was honored to host a panel in May to discuss the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s community relations efforts. The panel included Chief Kerr Putney; Willie Ratchford, executive director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee; and the founder of Step Up To Leadership, Arkevious Armstrong. In addition, to spur conversation at individual tables, the Club hosted multiple officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The panel discussed multiple issues, including perceptions of CMPD, the role of the media in that perception, and how the community can better engage with the police. All of the panelists highlighted the fundamental truth that the key to positive interactions between police and local communities is to foster meaningful relationships between the two. The panel encouraged Club members and the community to engage with CMPD via social media (links are at the bottom of this article), to participate in ridealongs and other CMPD community programs (, to teach children the important role of the police, to hold media accountable for balanced coverage, and to encourage conversation within personal and professional networks.

The Club is grateful for the service of all CMPD officers, and appreciate the time and commitment of the panelists.

You might also enjoy WBTV’s coverage of the meeting:

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CMPD bomb squad officer honored by Hood Hargett BreakfastClub

Sgt. Robert Whitley

Sgt. Robert Whitley

By Joe Marusak / Source Charlotte Observer

Sgt. Robert Whitleyhas helped defuse 100 or more active bombs in his 14 years on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s bomb squad. But even he didn’t know what to expect when a report came in Sept. 12 of a suicidal patient at Carolinas Medical Center who had an unexploded improvised explosive device embedded in his neck.

Whitley, the squad’s commander and the first squad member to arrive in the operating room, knew only that he needed to act quickly to save the man’s life.

Without his helmet and 80-pound protective bomb squad suit on, Whitley spent 10 to 15 minutes using hospital forceps to remove the device. It turned out to be a 2 3/4-inch-long high-powered rifle round the man apparently shot into himself with a flare gun, Whitley said.

Even so, from X-rays he examined before removing the shell casing, powder remained in the rifle round, he said. “There was a chance it could have ignited,” he said.

On Friday, Charlotte’s Hood Hargett Breakfast Club, a business development and networking group, recognized Whitley in front of his captain for his selfless act.

Whitley told the Observer later Friday that despite having defused so many bombs over the years with other members of the squad, he was nervous about this one. “That’s human nature,” he said.

Pipe bombs are the most common bombs the squad defuses, he said. “Last year, we had an artillery shell filled with black powder,” he said. But this one was unknown at first.

The man was flown from Catawba County, and by the time Whitley arrived, the emergency room had been evacuated.

Whitley was acutely aware of the device’s potential to explode.

“Of course you think about that,” Whitley said.

Whitley said he didn’t wear his bomb gear because it’s difficult to maneuver around in, and the area was also narrow.

“Ninety-five percent of our calls, you’ll wear your bomb suit or have a robot” sent in, he said.

He also didn’t have time because of the urgency in removing the device to save the man’s life, his superiors said in honoring Whitley with the CMPD Medal of Valor in November.

Whitley, 45, has been with CMPD for 20 years. He and his wife have two children, and his wife sometimes asks why he has to help defuse bombs as squad commander.

As of next Saturday, she won’t have to worry as much. That’s when Whitley will be promoted to lieutenant over a division, no longer defusing bombs.

Despite the tense moments, he said he did what he was trained to do.

“Sometimes you do things you’re supposed to do,” he said, “and I don’t know any other way to proceed.”