City Councilman Kenny Hardin Enjoys an Informative Breakfast Meeting with Mayor Alexander, Police Chief Stokes, and City Manager Bailey

Posted on September 19, 2016

Kenny Hardin, Salisbury City Councilman

♦ I enjoyed a very informative breakfast meeting and discussion this morning attended by Mayor Karen Alexander, Police Chief Jerome Stokes, and City Manager Lane Bailey.

We engaged in great candid and open conversation on several topics impacting our City. We delved deep into analysis, both long term and current, and discussed strategies each felt were relevant in addressing and resolving the issues. I appreciated the receptiveness of everyone around the table in being willing to listen to criticism without defensiveness.

We touched heavily on the lack of trust and communication between the Police and the Black community, public perception of the City, openness and transparency, identifying strong leadership in the community, increased community accountability, working effectively with community-based organizations, ensuring diversity and inclusion in the PD, better community engagement, offering a better understanding of the prosecutorial process to citizens, the continual shootings and gun violence, witness accounts of unsolved murders, the NAACP election, and my vision as its President, and highlighting community organizations who are doing real work to improve conditions.

The Chief and City Manager provided me a detailed update on the status and direction of the Department. We have 14 vacancies with an aggressive recruitment campaign in place. I recommended visiting local and regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities to aggressively recruit.

The Chief enlisted the Department of Justice to come in to conduct an oversight review of all aspects of the Department to ensure operational efficiency and integrity. Several weeks ago, I provided the three with a job description I had written for a community liaison officer role. The Chief met with Charlotte Mecklenburg PD leadership and has officially created and put someone in that type of role.

I touched on several other topics including having more diversity in 2nd tier leadership and criminal investigators. I asked the City Manager to be cognizant of ensuring marketing materials and other pictorial correspondence sent out to residents included a diverse array of faces.

I extended a question to the table but specifically to the Chief as a summation point- what is ONE thing that each of us could implement under our direct control and authority that we feel could have the biggest impact on improvement? I offered that we should focus on building trust and improving relationships, but not through feel good actions like cops dancing with kids. I reasoned it had to be strategies and initiatives that would yield definitive and measurable results.

Great, great discussion this morning.

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