Deputy Chief Johnny Jennings will become the new chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, city officials announced Wednesday morning. His promotion is effective in September.
Jennings, 52, will replace Kerr Putney, who is retiring after the Republican National Convention this summer.
Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones said the city chose the new chief from a pool of 60 candidates, including other police chiefs around the nation. Jennings is “head and shoulders above the crowd the perfect police chief,” Jones said.
“He is a man who knows our police department, he is a man who cares deeply for the men and women who serve, and just as importantly, or maybe more importantly, he cares deeply about our community,” Jones said.
Challenges ahead: Jennings’ promotion comes as the city navigates both an ongoing public health crisis and spree of violent crime. Last year Charlotte had 107 homicides, the most since 1993. On top of that, CMPD remains short staffed.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Jennings said the next several months are going to be “extremely challenging.”
“We are a strong city and I know we’re going to figure out the best way to come back,” Jennings said. “We’re going to be stronger because of this.”
Who he is: Jennings joined CMPD in 1992, the same year Putney joined the organization. The two were part of a big hiring wave during one of the most violent times in Charlotte’s history.
At the start of his career, Jennings was in the patrol division, then later became a homicide detective. He worked his way up to become a major in criminal investigations, and he’s part of the leadership team that helped lead the city through several events that drew international attention. A few include the 2012 Democratic National Convention and the 2019 NBA All-Star game. He currently leads the support services group.
Jennings is well-known in the department for being a personable figure, quick with a smile and a joke — a slight contrast from Putney, who had a reputation for getting down to business.
“We know that making a choice with an internal hire is the best thing to continue our legacy,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said.
His family: Jennings has three sons and a wife, Lisa, whom he thanked for being his “rock through a very difficult career.”
“To be able to take on this leadership role with our Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, it means a great deal to me. I’m excited and ready for this challenge,” Jennings said.