A rare public view of a fired officer's attempt to keep his job may motivate other officers in trouble to open their appeal hearings, according to the president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg fraternal order of police.
Last week, the Charlotte Civil Service Board upheld the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's decision to fire Chuck Adkins, a former captain who had worked in Internal Affairs, Communications and in the watch commander's office.
Stories about the appeal hearing were broadcast on TV and written about in the paper, and watched closely by the department's nearly 1,800 sworn officers.
The department said Adkins broke CMPD policy by failing to immediately alert law enforcement officers about his Sept. 19 conversation with a woman who came to his home while he was in his garage, with his marked CMPD cruiser parked outside.
Adkins took the unusual step of asking that his Civil Service Board hearing be open to the public. He also notified several media outlets, including the Observer, about the hearing. (Officers who are disciplined by the department can appeal to the civil service board. Disciplined officers can also request that their hearings be open to the public, though most don't.)
In an e-mail to the Observer, Adkins said "I hope members of the media will attend as several CMPD employees who feel they were unjustly 'targeted' in the past plan on attending part or all of this hearing."
Adkins wasn't a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, which sometimes helps pay the legal costs of officers accused of wrongdoing by the department.
But Todd Walther, a CMPD sergeant and the president of the FOP, said Adkins' case could motivate other officers to elect to have open hearings.
"It allows the community to see them as a real human being instead of just a uniform," Walther said. "It's not a secret. We make mistakes just like anyone. I think in an open forum, it could be positive to show that we're not just a badge and a gun." --Cleve R. Wootson Jr.