Charlotte, NC – A Charlotte city councilman said he thought the city would be better served by replacing the police department with an agency without guns so that officers would use communication skills instead of force to solve problems.
Charlotte City Councilman Braxton Winston told a local newspaper that he thought Charlotte would be better off if they replaced the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) with an unarmed agency, according to WJZY.
Winston said he thought that officers carrying weapons on duty instigated more violence.
“I do not believe that… the utilization of violence creates peaceful outcomes,” he told WJZY. “And I think there’s plenty of evidence in that and we need to do things differently.”
The councilman was asked if officers should be expected to respond to 911 calls about violent or armed criminal suspects unarmed and he said police should use words rather than force.
Winston referenced multiple SWAT incidents where police were able to negotiate with a suspect to resolve the conflict, WJZY reported.
“So, I think if you look right now, most of those, those potentially violent situations already right now, resolve using interpersonal skills, as in talking and being present,” he said.
But Thomas Sadler, a 74-year resident of Charlotte, told WJZY that disarming police would make officers targets.
“I think the police, if they weren’t armed, they become a target,” Sadler said. “And once they become a target, then we’ll be having other situations that will be having vigils for and that is absolutely, absolutely ridiculous.”
The senior citizen is president of his neighborhood association and said he believe community policing was the solution to the violence, WJZY reported.
“The police are not bad people. We’ve got a few bad apples, but the police in general, generally good people,” Sadler said. “They went [into law enforcement] because they want to help and I believe that of the majority of them.”
CMPD hired a consulting agency to help train officers to give residents better customer service but Winston called that a waste of time, WJZY reported.
“That customer service approach is not necessarily my view of the types of reforms and changes that are needed for, again, the government’s role in ensuring a safe community,” the councilman said.
The Police Tribune reached out to Winston to find out exactly how his gun-free police department would work but had not received a response at publication time.