Charlotte City Council members are once again making headlines after asking for the police training budget to be reduced by one million dollars. Why? To help fund the council members a new raise. The proposed reduction request came from Matt Newton (D) and LaWana Mayfield (D). This isn’t the first time this council has made headlines at the expense of police.
Braxton Winston (D) was in national news before his election to the city council for protesting police after the justified shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. A photo of a shirtless Winston standing in front of riot-control officers with his fist raised went viral. This incident rose his community status and helped to win him an at-large position on the council. Even celebrities like Chelsea Clinton and Common chimed in to show their support for Winston on social media.
Last May, Lawana Mayfield famously tweeted that police were “homegrown terrorist wearing blue uniforms.”
— LaWana Mayfield (@lawanamayfield) March 26, 2018
Not only did this draw a lot of criticism and requests for her removal, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper dismissed her from the NC Human Relations Commission. Councilwoman Mayfield has previously referred to herself as a “champion for the police,” however there isn’t much evidence for that claim.
All the council members seem to agree that police need more training, specifically in de-escalation techniques. The sentiment is most vocal after an officer-involved shooting and usually echoed for weeks after.
The pay increase was asked to come out of the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department’s (CMPD) Crisis Intervention training budget. This training helps officers learn to deescalate a situation before force is ever needed. The same people that demand better training of officers to curb officer-involved shootings are asking to take funds away from the very training for which they advocate. Of course, this rubbed people the wrong way across the country, instantly making national news. Once again, putting Charlotte in a bad light.
Just a few days prior, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney called some of Charlotte’s elected officials “irresponsible activist” over their lack of representation at the annual Memorial Service for officers killed in the line of duty. Although elected officials may say they support police and law enforcement, actions do speak louder than words, and the past actions of these council members speak volumes. But not all council members feel this way.
The suggestion was met with stiff resistance from Tariq Bokhari, a Republican council member. Bokhari appears to be a strong supporter of CMPD and even made a documentary about his ride-along experiences, TenEighteen: Officers Need Assistance. Bokhari said the proposal was “making us all look stupid.” He advised the council didn’t need the raises. The debate simmered down when Budget Director Phil Reiger explained that the money would have to come from somewhere else and that it couldn’t come from that budget item, making it a moot point. But by that time the damage had been done. We will see what happens June 10th when the budget will have its final vote. Again, action speaks louder than words.