CHARLOTTE, N.C. – First a video message to officers, then an op-ed in the local paper, and now, in front of news cameras. CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings says, “The conversation needs to be had.” Jennings wants bond reform to keep violent, repeat criminals from getting out of jail, “Even before we finish our paperwork,” he says.
The case that was the final straw? A crime scene at a bar in NoDa last month, where an officer took a bullet to the leg. A magistrate set the accused shooter’s bond at $170,000. Ten percent of that, backed by a bail bondsmen or a property lien, is all it takes to walk out of jail. Jennings says, “When I saw that and I realized what that does to the psyche of our officers…it was just a kick in the gut.”
Jennings tells WCCB News @ Ten anchor Morgan Fogarty that he doesn’t claim to have the answers. He says bond reform is one part. More prosecutors is another. Fogarty asked, “It sounds like gun control could solve a lot of these issues. Do you agree with that?” Jennings replied, “I think there’s a place for gun control.”
He says it’ll be a long journey, and a lot of work. “Everybody has a right to due process. But you as a citizen also have a right to not be victimized by someone who continuously preys our community,” Jennings says.
The Chief says his push is not an attack on magistrates, he just wants to make the system better with more guidance and oversight.