The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will build problem-solving partnerships with our citizens to prevent the next crime and enhance the quality of life throughout our community, always treating people with fairness and respect.
- WE VALUE:
- Our Employees
- Open Communications
- Problem Solving
- The Constitution of North Carolina
- The Constitution of the United States
LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY
This manual consists of departmental directives, which are for the internal use of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and in no way enlarges an officer’s civil or criminal liability. It should not be construed as the creation of a higher standard of safety or care in an evidentiary sense, with respect to third party claims. Violations of the departmental directives, if proven, can only form the basis of a complaint by this Department in a non-judicial administrative hearing.
JURISDICTION & AUTHORITY
- PURPOSE The purpose of this policy is to define the territorial jurisdiction and delegation of authority of sworn officers of CMPD.
- CMPD derives its authority from the North Carolina General Statutes and Session Laws, the Code of the City of Charlotte, and the Agreement between the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for the Consolidation of the Charlotte and Mecklenburg Police Departments.
- The Chief of Police and all sworn officers will have full law enforcement authority within the boundaries of Mecklenburg County and on all property owned by or leased to the City or County wherever located within the State of North Carolina.
NOTE: The territorial jurisdiction of CMPD extends to and includes the entirety of Lake Norman, Lake Wylie and Mountain Island Lake, and the shoreline area of each body of water.
- The Chief of Police and all sworn officers have the authority to arrest anywhere in the State of North Carolina for a felony committed in Mecklenburg County as described in paragraph II – A – 2, and have the authority to pursue an offender who is in immediate and continuous flight, outside of this jurisdiction, in accordance with CMPD policy.
- When an offense is committed, a felony within the territory described above, under circumstances that would authorize an arrest without a warrant, an officer has the authority to pursue the offender who is in immediate and continuous flight, outside said territory, in accordance with CMPD policy.
- Officers in pursuit of a person who is in immediate and continuous flight from the commission of a crime dangerous to life are authorized to enter South Carolina in a vehicle or foot pursuit to affect the arrest of the offender. Officers engaged in a vehicle pursuit into the state of South Carolina for a crime dangerous to life must adhere to the provisions set forth in CMPD Directive 600-022 Emergency Response and Pursuit Vehicle Operations.
- Mutual Aid to Municipal or County Police, or Sheriff’s Office
The Chief of Police, or designee, pursuant to state law, may temporarily provide assistance to another municipal or county police department, or sheriff’s office if so requested in writing by the head of the requesting agency. While working for the requesting agency, officers will have the same powers, rights, privileges and immunities as the officers of the requesting agency.
- Mutual Aid to State Law Enforcement Agencies
The Chief of Police, or designee, pursuant to state law, may temporarily provide assistance to a state law enforcement agency in enforcing the laws of North Carolina if so requested in writing by the head of the State agency. While working with the State agency, an officer will have the same jurisdiction, powers, rights, privileges and immunities as the officers of the state agency.
- Oath of Office
Before entering upon the discharge of their duties, the Chief of Police and each CMPD officer will swear or affirm to the following oath administered by the City Clerk or other official authorized by law to administer such oaths:
“I, [individual officer’s name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and maintain the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the Constitution and laws of North Carolina not inconsistent herewith; that I will be alert and vigilant to enforce the criminal laws of this State; that I will not be influenced in any manner on account of personal bias or prejudice; that I will faithfully and impartially execute the duties of my office as a law enforcement officer according to the best of my skill, abilities, and judgment; so help me, God.”
CMPD officers are authorized to make discretionary decisions within their lawful span of authority. Officers have the discretion not to arrest except for offenses and violations in which the suspect, by law, must be arrested. The use of discretion includes the use of alternatives to arrest.
Alternatives to arrest available to officers include, but are not limited to, the use of citations for non-violent misdemeanors and infractions; verbal and written warnings; and referral to other agencies. The use of discretion does not authorize officers to overlook criminal activity.
Empowerment is the concept of transferring decision-making, controls and information to the lowest ranking levels of CMPD.
- Supervisors and managers must create a work environment where employees will choose to exert themselves to deliver a higher level of service to the public and to the department. This environment will enable employees to make prompt, informed decisions within their responsibility.
- This decision making ability is accompanied by the delegated authority and each employee is accountable for the use of this delegated authority.
- The empowerment of employees will require supervisors to clearly communicate expectations to employees to transfer decision-making responsibility to the employee. Supervisors will remain accountable for the activities of employees under their immediate command.
- Delegated Authority
When Command level supervisors and managers are unavailable to provide command and supervision of their area of responsibility, they will delegate this authority to another supervisor or manager. When delegating this authority, notification will be made in writing to the Command Staff and Communications Supervisors.
- The supervisor that has been delegated the authority of his/her command level supervisor or manager will have the authority and responsibility to supervise their delegated area of responsibility and all personnel. These supervisors are accountable for the decisions made under that delegated authority.
- In the sudden or unplanned absence of the Command level supervisor or manager, and if no acting commanding officer or manager has been designated, the senior ranking officer in that same chain of command will assume command until relieved by higher authority.
Tensions and hostility are a part of policing. Police officers must, as part of their job, issue orders to people, catch them in violation of laws, deprive them of their freedom, and bring charges that may lead to the imposition of severe punishment. Contacts between officers and citizens are often initiated under conditions that are emotionally charged, such as immediately after a fight or other disturbance, or following the commission of a crime. Even the person getting a traffic ticket frequently becomes indignant. However scrupulous the police may be in carrying out their responsibilities, they are bound to incur the wrath of some of those against whom they must proceed. This hostility manifests itself in various forms – sometimes immediately, by verbal abuse or physical resistance to the police; sometimes later by alleging that the officer’s actions were improper or illegal. Under such circumstances an officer must be able to count on support for actions taken in the line of duty. The police officer expects and indeed needs some insulation from the community being served. But insulation can serve as a shield for the officer who is not so scrupulous – who in fact acts improperly.
– Herman Goldstein
Policing a Free Society – 1977
The adversarial nature of policing is one of the key factors noted by Herman Goldstein that complicates the control and review of police actions and behavior. The public grants the police considerable authority to act on its behalf in the effort to create an environment as free of crime, the fear of crime, drug abuse, violence and disorder as possible. Although in almost all encounters with the public, police officers and non-sworn employees use this authority appropriately, there are times when citizens have legitimate questions about how this authority has been used. Unfortunately there are also times when that authority has been abused. Therefore, it is critical that a system of discipline be established that contributes to minimizing abuse of authority and promotes the department’s reputation for professionalism.
The most effective disciplinary system is one that combines the reinforcement of the right set of values in all employees with behavioral standards that are established in clear policies, procedures and rules that are consistently and fairly applied. Each employee of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department must understand and be guided by the standards that have been established in the department policies, rules, regulations and procedures.
Employees of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department are expected to conduct themselves, both in interactions with each other and with the public, in a manner that conveys respect, honesty, integrity, and dedication to public service. In turn, employees of the department can expect to be treated fairly, honestly and respectfully, by their peers and other employees of the department who hold positions of greater or lesser organizational authority.
It is recognized and understood that employees of the department will make judgmental errors from time to time in carrying out their responsibilities. In fact, employees who never make any mistakes may be doing very little to try to improve the performance of the department. While each error in judgment offers an opportunity for the department and the individual to learn, it is also understood some errors will have greater consequences than others will for the public, the department and the employee. The department has an obligation to make its expectations as clear as possible to employees. The department has an equal obligation to make the consequences for failing to meet those expectations clear. While both of these obligations are difficult to meet, the latter is obviously more complex. There are often circumstances that may have contributed to errors of judgment or poor decisions that need to be considered when determining the appropriate consequences for behavior found improper.
In trying to define fair and consistent treatment in disciplinary matters in the abstract, employees often say they would like the department to give them a list of the prohibited behaviors along with the consequences for engaging in those behaviors. Experience tells us though, when employees are directly involved in the disciplinary process — either as the subject of the process or in a review capacity to recommend or decide on the consequences – most want to consider the consequences in light of the circumstances that might have contributed to the violation. This of course is a critical aspect of the application of discipline in a consistent and fair manner. For some employees consistency is seen as the same treatment for the same behavior in every case, and it is thought if this is done, the consequences will be fair to everyone. For the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department consistency is defined as holding everyone equally accountable for unacceptable behavior and fairness is understanding the circumstances that contributed to the behavior while applying the consequences in a way that reflects this understanding. In order to ensure that employees are treated in a consistent and fair manner, the application of consequences for behaviors that are not in keeping with the expectations of the department will be based upon a balanced consideration of several factors.
A number of factors that are considered in the application of discipline are identified and discussed below. All of these factors will not apply in every case. Some factors may not apply to the particular set of circumstances. Also, there may be a tendency to isolate one factor and give it greater importance than another. These factors should generally be thought of as being interactive and having equal weight, unless there are particular circumstances associated with an incident that would give a factor greater or lesser weight. The factors which will be considered in disciplinary matters include:
Employee Motivation: The police department exists to serve the public. One factor in examining an employee’s conduct will be whether or not the employee was operating in the public interest. An employee who violates a policy in an effort to accomplish a legitimate police purpose that demonstrates an understanding of the broader public interest inherent in the situation will be given more positive consideration in the determination of consequences than one who was motivated by personal interest. Obviously there will be difficulty from time to time in determining what is in the public interest. For example, would it be acceptable for an employee to knowingly violate an individual’s First Amendment right to the freedom of speech to rid the public of what some might call a nuisance? Or is it acceptable as being in the public interest to knowingly violate a Fourth Amendment right against an unlawful search to arrest a dangerous criminal? Although it would clearly not be acceptable in either case for an employee to knowingly violate a Constitutional right, these are very complex issues that officers are asked to address. The police have a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. It is in the greater public interest to protect those Constitutional guarantees in carrying out that responsibility even though it might be argued the public interest was being better served in the individual case. But if an employee attempts to devise an innovative, nontraditional solution for a persistent crime or service problem and unintentionally runs afoul of minor procedures; the desire to encourage creativity in our efforts at producing public safety will carry significant weight in dealing with any discipline that might result.
The Degree of Harm: The degree of harm an error causes is also an important aspect in deciding the consequences of an employee’s behavior. Harm can be measured in a variety of ways. It can be measured in terms of the monetary cost to the department and community. An error that causes significant damage to a vehicle for example could be examined in light of the repair costs. Harm can also be measured in terms of the personal injury the error causes such as the consequences of an unnecessary use of force. Another way in which harm can be measured is the impact of the error on public confidence. An employee who engages in criminal behavior – selling drugs for example — could affect the public confidence in the police if the consequences do not send a clear, unmistakable message that this behavior will not be tolerated.
Employee Experience: The experience of the employee will be taken into consideration as well. A relatively new employee (or a more experienced employee in an unfamiliar assignment) will be given greater consideration when judgmental errors are made. In the same vein, employees who make judgmental errors that would not be expected of one who has a significant amount of experience may expect to receive more serious sanctions.
Intentional/Unintentional Errors: Employees will make errors that could be classified as intentional and unintentional. An unintentional error is an action or decision that turns out to be wrong, but at the time it was taken, seemed to be in compliance with policy and the most appropriate course, based on the information available. A supervisor for example, might give permission for a vehicle pursuit to continue on the basis the vehicle and occupants met the general description of one involved in an armed robbery. The pursuit ends in a serious accident and it is learned the driver was fleeing because his driver’s license was expired. Under these circumstances, the supervisor’s decision would be supported because it was within the policy at the time it was made. Unintentional errors also include those momentary lapses of judgment or acts of carelessness that result in minimal harm (backing a police cruiser into a pole for example, failing to turn in a report, etc.). Employees will be held accountable for these errors but the consequences will be more corrective than punitive unless the same errors persist.
An intentional error is an action or a decision that an employee makes that is known (or should be known) to be in conflict with law, policy, procedures or rules at the time it is taken. Generally, intentional errors will be treated more seriously and carry greater consequences. Within the framework of intentional errors there are certain behaviors that are entirely inconsistent with the responsibilities of police employees. These include lying, theft, or physical abuse of citizens and other equally serious breaches of the trust placed in members of the policing profession. The nature of the police responsibility requires that police officers be truthful. It is recognized however, that it is sometimes difficult to determine if one is being untruthful. The department will terminate an employee’s employment when it is clear the employee is intentionally engaging in an effort to be untruthful. Every effort will also be made to separate individuals from the department found to have engaged in theft or serious physical abuse of citizens.
Employee’s Past Record: To the extent allowed by law and policy an employee’s past record will be taken into consideration in determining the consequences of a failure to meet the department’s expectations. An employee that continually makes errors can expect the consequences of this behavior to become progressively more punitive. An employee that has a record of few or no errors can expect less stringent consequences. Also, an employee whose past reflects hard work and dedication to the community and department will be given every consideration in the determination of any disciplinary action.
Following the careful consideration of all applicable factors in any disciplinary review, every effort will be made to determine consequences that consistently and fairly fit each specific incident. The rationale for disciplinary decisions will be explained as clearly as possible.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has a well-established tradition of serving the community with integrity and in a professional manner. It is among the finest police organizations in this nation. To maintain that tradition and continue improving the quality of service the department provides to the community, each and every employee must accept the responsibility for their role in maintaining integrity, quality and high professional standards.