NC police chief introduces customer-service training curriculum

The program, which strives to build trust between the public and police, will ensure officers treat residents they interact with as customers

By Sarah Calams

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In an effort to build trust between the public and police, a police chief is implementing a new customer-service training curriculum.

The Charlotte Observer reported that the curriculum, which was introduced by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings, will ensure officers treat residents they interact with as customers, not as victims or suspects.

"I don't want people to walk away from us with a bad feeling," Jennings said. "Even if we are dealing with a bad incident, it does not have to be a bad experience dealing with the officers."

The department hired a consulting firm, which has a client list that includes Disney and Nordstrom, to train its 2,300 employees. The firm's full program is scheduled to go public this summer.

"In dealing with the public, we must be cordial even if it's not reciprocated," Jennings said. "Our officers must always be professional and treat people with respect."

However, the customer-service training was met with mixed reactions. A city councilman called the approach "a waste of money," while others applauded the department's move to improve the way officers interact with the public.

"My hope is it's going to improve the way police interact with the public, so a routine interaction doesn't escalate into something that's fatal," Tonya Jameson, chair of the city's Citizens Review Board, said.

The transition to a customer-driven department, according to Jennings, is an important change, noting that "trust is at a very low level, the lowest I've ever seen in my 29-year career."

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