During the George Floyd Demonstrations in Charlotte when residents expressing their first amendment right to assemble were ambushed and tear gassed by CMPD, Kendrick "Swank" Cunningham stepped up and led the fight to make the Charlotte City Council pass police reform measures that would hold CMPD accountable and prevent them from executing unlawful deescalation tactics in the future. Due to the pressure he applied together with thousands of Charlotte residents, the City Council decided to adopt the #8CantWait policy initiative and Braxton Winston's measure to defund the purchase of chemical agents.
Kendrick "Swank" Cunningham believes that all residents in Charlotte deserve to have a safety service they can trust and depend to protect them in every instance. All people, no matter their race or social class, should receive equal treatment from officers working in Charlotte's community. As national discourse on policing becomes a trending topic filled with jargon, Charlotte must ensure that it's public safety department is fully trained to not make the countless mistakes displayed across the media. Swank wants the Charlotte City Council to redirect budget prioritization away from expanding the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and instead focus on using existing funding to re-imagine community safety in our city.
Balance the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Budget: Currently, CMPD spends approximately 12% more than the revenue they make and Swank believes that must be balanced. As a City Councilman, Swank wants to represent Charlotte residents on the Safe Communities Committee and Budget and Effectiveness Committee to decrease the expenditures incurred by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Working to balance CMPD's budget will allow the Charlotte City Council to increase the city's investment in transforming our low income, high crime neighborhoods.
A Community Minded Public Safety Department: Contemporary police departments serve one sole purpose, to protect. While Charlotte has not adopted a resource-based mindset, Swank feels that officers should also serve its communities through a more community minded lens. That is why Swank will urge the Mayor of Charlotte to work with the Chief Johnny Jennings and practice less authoritarian tactics outside of preventing crime when engaging with residents in their communities.
Less Harmful Deescalation Tactics: Videos have circulated around the media of Charlotte's police department implementing harmful deescalation tactics full of personal rage. People exercising their first amendment right should be able to non-violently do so whenever they please. Instead of criminalizing all protesters and agitating protesters to become violent and non-peaceful, Swank wants to identify ways that Charlotte's police department can practice less harmful deescalation strategies to ensure the safety of all citizens during intervention.
Stop Jailing People for Being too Poor to Pay Fines and Fees: Some people end up unable to escape our justice system because of the very fines and fees that the system levies. This does not aide the work of our city to hinder generational poverty from occurring. Swank will use his legislative making power to introduce a policy that would stop the jailing of Charlotte residents with the inability to pay fines and fees.
Encourage CMPD to Collect Sufficient Data for Evidence-Based Criminal Justice Policy Making to Eliminate Disparities: Data is a powerful tool to shine light on and spur action to address biases in our local criminal justice system, but we have insufficient data to fully understand these biases. This leads to a lack of information regarding how specific populations are impacted by the system. Swank will encourage CMPD to add information regarding ethnicity to their criminal justice data collection.