Johnny Jennings Sworn in as New Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief
Ken Brown
Johnny Jennings Sworn in as New Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief

Former head of community outreach programs will prioritize community building and violent crime prevention and reduction.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Johnny Jennings was sworn in today as the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Chief of Police. Jennings has spent nearly 30 years with CMPD and during his service has held several leadership roles, including overseeing the Support Services group, which includes the Community Services Bureau, as well as commanding officer for the Administrative Services Group, Special Services Group, and the Field Services Group. He also served as a major over Intelligence, Investigations, Special Operations, and Office of Professional Responsibility.

Jennings said his administration will focus on four key areas: professional accountability, community collaboration, crime management, and employee wellness.

“It is important that as a police department we adopt a customer service mentality and instill that mentality throughout the department,” Jennings said. “The community provides the CMPD with the authority to police. We are never going to move the needle and build community relations until we recognize how the community wants to be policed.  That will require all of us, every single one of us coming together to make this community safer and the CMPD a better department.”

Jennings was promoted following a national search process that included significant input from community groups and key stakeholders. Leaders from civil rights organizations, community groups and faith-based organizations provided input as part of the search process, as did Mayor Vi Lyles, Charlotte-Mecklenburg District Attorney Spencer Merriweather and other elected and appointed officials.

Additionally, more than 1,400 CMPD officers and civilians provided input through an anonymous organizational survey.

“Since we announced the Chief Jennings would be our next Chief, I’ve heard from many people across the Charlotte community and the law enforcement community praising his work and character,” City Manager Marcus D. Jones. “The events of the past several weeks have only reinforced my belief that Chief Jennings is the right person to lead CMPD. He is a progressive, community-focused leader and I’m looking forward to working with him for a long time.”

Jennings was sworn in by Mayor Lyles and replaces Chief Kerr Putney, who retired concurrently with Jennings’ swearing in.

“The person leading CMPD has always been one of the most important roles in our community and that is truer today than ever before,” Mayor Lyles said. “Chief Jennings is an excellent communicator and has a talent for building relationships. I can’t think of two more important traits for our next police chief and I’m excited for our community to have a man like Chief Jennings leading CMPD.”

Jennings will place a heavy priority on violent crime prevention and reduction through initiatives and partnerships in both the criminal justice system and the private sector, as well as examining alternative solutions to discretionary arrests of lower level offenses.

“Clearly, we cannot always arrest our way out of situations,” said Jennings.

Jennings emphasized that CMPD employee health and wellness will also be a top priority.

“Sadly, what often gets overshadowed in policing is the human side of the profession. It’s sometimes easy to forget that there are men and women who are serving this community in our department, both sworn and civilian,” Jennings said. “Fair to say, that it has never been more challenging time for them to serve in law enforcement than this current time.”