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Saturday, October 29, 2011



After many requests to figure out what the heck is going with CMPD, the City of Charlotte, Taser, Inc., and PERF (Police Executive Research Forum), along with some seemingly outrageous approvals by City Council for Police spending, an alert reader has sent information to citynewswatch received directly from the City. 
Yesterday, CMPD Attorney Judy Emken promised to send the PERF contract requested concerning the evaluation of tasers performed before the decision to purchase more tasers.  Here is the contract that was sent.  The date isn’t filled out, except that it says “___ of September, 2011” with an evaluation to be completed within 50 days.  This contract was not signed by City of Charlotte Assistant Manager Eric Campbell until October 20th, 2011.  Nothing about this makes sense when you consider the City Council approved spending of almost $2 Million to purchase a new style of taser on September 26th.  And is this the best accounting practice?
PERF is contracted at a rate of $69,000 to do something at some time regarding tasers we have already purchased, though that contract and purchase are also murky—and the CMPD Attorney has said the public is not entitled to the information requested, though you are invited to call and chat about it.

The “effective date” on the executed Taser, Inc. contract newly provided is listed as September 26th, 2011, but the signature accepting the contract by Charlotte Assistant City Manager Eric Campbell is October 20th, 2011. 
CMPD Attorney Judy Emken had stated yesterday (Oct. 27) that there was no signed contract yet.  Was this a mistake or was the document back-signed and -dated? 
The PERF contract—which was supposed to be consultants’ review of the entire taser process, according to Rodney Monroe, and the Taser, Inc. Contract have exactly the same signature and date by Eric Campbell.  They certainly didn’t complete a review before purchase, did they?
Today, the same CMPD Attorney Emken sent this executed copy signed on October 20th to purchase TASERS the public and police officers were told would be here very soon many weeks ago.

She also refused to answer these questions with the claim they are not public record, but that one could call her or the Public Affairs Captain to talk about if they want to.  This attorney states directly that information requested is not public information.  See the emails that were sent an know that it took five emails beginning Oct. 10th to the people who should have provided the information, then one to the entire distribution noted, including citynewswatch, the City Manager, the Mayor, all Council members, the Police Chief, City spokesperson, and more before receiving a friendly invitation to chat with Captain Cunningham.  Now there is an absurd set of responses and documents that make no sense. 
The following was sent 10/28 to Ms. Emken, Mr. Shah-Khan, and the full distribution list of mentioned above:
Ms. Emken and Mr. Shah-Khan,
Ms. Emken's email yesterday (10/27) indicated that she had included a signed copy of the Taser, Inc. contract. Then she indicated that the City Manager had not yet signed the contract. Ms. Emken has now sent today (10/28) a copy of a contract signed by the City Manager's office (Assistant Manager Eric Campbell) on 10/20. This is all contradictory information, and contradicts the publicized accounts of tasers on the way to police.
Her assertions that the answers to my questions are not public record are false as well. This is public information, part of the definition of public records in the public records law, and must be provided. I would also recommend clarifying the first part about when a contract was in place and when tasers were ordered. Also please explain why there is no Purchase Order.
Is this PERF agreement enclosed, which is signed and approved on October 20th by Mr. Campbell as well, for the review which I asked for--the one that was to have taken place immediately after the CMPD internal review, and prior to the (September) 26th vote to purchase tasers?
Why is there no beginning date of service on this contract?
Has it been removed, or did no one bother to include it before Mr. Campbell signed it a few days ago, according to you?
All of this paperwork is extremely suspect.
Have I been given the incorrect paperwork?
Is this a contract for separate, additional work?
Please explain to Ms. Emken that public information is part of the definition of public records.
Please send all information and papers requested now. Thank you for cooperating at this time.

-----Original Message-----
From: Emken, Judy <>
To: (name withheld)
Cc: Cunningham, Brian <>
Sent: Oct 28, 2011
(name withheld),
Please find attached the fully executed contracts as per your public records request. As to your various questions and requests for explanations, these are not requests for public records and therefore, there is nothing to provide you.
With regard to your latest request as of October 27, 2011, for the results of the PERF study, we will put that newest request in queue.
You are welcome to call either myself or Captain Cunningham if you would like to discuss the various questions you pose.

Judith Emken
Senior Assistant City Attorney
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept.
601 East Trade Street
Charlotte, NC 28202

From: (name withheld)
October 27
To: Emken, Judy
Cc: Cunningham, Brian
Subject: Re: PUBLIC INFORMATION REQUEST for contracts

Dear Ms. Emken,
I received the .PDF document you sent containing the unsigned contract, opening letter from Taser, Inc., and your email. Thank you for sending those. I have these comments/questions:
1.    The opening letter is dated October 3, indicating you have withheld this information a minimum of 24 days without cause. What is your reason for doing so? Why wasn’t this contract “in house” to begin with, eliminating a need to get City of Charlotte Contract information from another company?
2.    The letter indicates it contains a SIGNED copy of the contract, however you did not provide a signed copy, other than by the other company. Your email states the City Manager has not yet signed the contract, but public statements have been made that the Taser order has been placed. What is the true status of the order? What is/are the reason(s) the City Manager hasn’t signed the contract? Is he preparing to sign the contract? When are any decisions regarding the answers to my questions expected?
3.    The information provided indicates that someone signed a contract with Taser International on September 26th, apparently during business hours: though you may clarify that. There was not a vote to approve the spending of any money for this purpose until the evening of September 26th at the City Council Meeting. Please explain if this is legal or not. Please explain in terms regarding Asset Forfeiture money and separately the other funds used. Is that one of the reasons for the hold up on the Manager’s signature?

4.    Sec. 23.8 says that No Publicity may be made regarding this agreement without prior written agreement of the City, etc… Such publicity has occurred. Therefore, please provide a copy of that agreement. 
5.    Has the PERF study been completed? If so, please send the study results as well as the contract.

6.    If there was a written report from the CMPD study, please send that as well.

Thank you very much for attending to this public records request.

-----Original Message-----
From: Emken, Judy <>
To: (name withheld)
Cc: Cunningham, Brian <>
Sent: Thu,
Oct 27, 2011 10:37 am
Please find the Taser contract and the Request for Council action item which was approved by council on Sept. 26, 2011, but the City Manager has not yet signed it.
The PERF agreement is still being reviewed at this time.

Judith Emken
Senior Assistant City Attorney
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept.
601 East Trade Street
Charlotte, NC 28202

From: Cunningham, Brian
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 3:25 PM
To: (name withheld)

Your request is being reviewed at this time, please feel free to call me at 704-336-4098. Thanks Brian

The suggestions Emken makes, and those from Captain Brian Cunningham, Public Affairs Officer in the Office of the Chief to give him a call and discuss it, are not valid or necessary.  An attorney ought to know that written documents trump hearsay at any time, and requiring a conversation with someone in order to give public information is not part of the law anyway.  Considering how screwed up these documents are…
From reviewing multiple emails from different sources, either Captain Cunningham is a very lonely man with an incessant need to chat with everyone, or there is a concerted effort on the part of the Office of the Chief to avoid putting any answers in writing.  Since there is an equal claim that Captain Cunningham is so bogged down with public records requests that you should expect a very long wait for any information, we should hope he’s not just bored and chatty. 

What is the truth?  What are the excuses about?  What are the reasons behind trying to avoid giving the information about what the Police Department is really doing?
It shouldn’t take weeks, months to get the answers to a couple of direct questions, or the return of a report that should be on hand already.  Any request should be answered.  Maybe Captain Cunningham should get off the phone and coordinate some emails.

Is this connected to the pay and charges for Ms. Emken against Asset and Forfeiture funds?  Others have written to say their public records requests have been delayed or denied in relation to this TASER topic and in relation to the Asset and Forfeiture money specifically. (Remember $400,000 of A&F money was approved in the evening, after the effective business day of the contract of September 26th, though the contract inexplicably wasn’t signed until after numerous requests for it were made:  signed on October 20).  
Asset Forfeiture money, those funds acquired through seizure due to illegal activities, is intended to be used for extremely specific, pre-approved law enforcement activities.  It is absolutely forbidden to be used in other ways.  One way it’s not allowed to be used, according to other law enforcement agencies and federal agencies, is for regularly budgeted items.  That would include attorneys’ salaries—except only those hours that have to do specifically with disposition of the Asset & Forfeiture items.

According to records, in FY 2011 alone about $120,000 were charged against the A&F budget for Ms. Emken.  Unless more than 100% of her time is spent on A & F, pre-approved, then these do not seem to be permissible charges.  Maybe it could be explained better.
Other charges that the CMPD has refused to explain for months are the hundreds of thousands of dollars listed on the Asset & Forfeiture funds as “Project Pool” of Chief Monroe, with no further explanation.  Repeated requests for explanation of those projects have been rejected, with no legal reason for the rejection.  Public Records Law requires a legal reason for refusing the request.  It leads to thoughts of this money being used as a slush fund of unexplained money, which would certainly violate the tight Federal restrictions on use.

Charges for other items that should be regular budget items are included in Asset & Forfeiture spending in the last few years as well, but CMPD refuses to explain.  The Mayor and City Council have been informed that Chief Monroe and City Manager Walton will not give public information on this and other topics, as have City Attorneys, yet they will not take any action.

The Chief and his Staff, all the officers involved, and all the rest mentioned here, still won’t release the financial information about the CMPD Blue Hornets Baseball Team and the difference between what the tax records say, what their web site says, and what travel records say concerning the “charitable” foundation set up in the name of an officer.  Those officers came back now from trips to NY and PA, so they probably have time to talk about who their sponsors are and all the money sources and expenditures.  As it is, they won’t even say who is on the Board of Directors.

As mentioned in the earlier post, there is over $62,000 charged to “TEAM CHARLOTTE” during FY2011.   Is that for the CMPD Blue Hornets?   Chief Monroe won’t answer.  On 6/30/11, there was a $5,000 charge against Asset & Forfeiture money for “monogramming.”  Was that for the baseball team?  Whatever it was for, we can be reasonably certain it was not for a verifiable law enforcement need that was approved in advance by City Council, as Federal Law requires for those monies.  If it was, maybe Captain Cunningham can use some of his free time to send a quick e-mail to explain what it was about.   Maybe he could do the same concerning a few thousand dollars charged in his name at a guitar store earlier this year, too, to the same funds.

Is there a conflict when an attorney involved in Asset and Forfeiture funds is also refusing public records requests regarding those same funds?

Is there a conflict when the Attorneys for the City of Charlotte are repeatedly delaying or refusing Public Records requests concerning matters in which they may represent the City/City Employees in litigation on subjects contained in the information requested?  Should there be a time limit or clearer standards set here to compel City of Charlotte employees to follow the law at all times, beyond having to hire a private attorney and file a lawsuit?  The current laws should be sufficient.  It seems they may not be compelling enough.

What is the correct thing to do when the people that hold the information that belongs to the public hold it, control it, as if it is their private commodity to be bargained for?  Should it be held as only accessible to those who have the money and time to persist in hiring a private attorney to sue their own government and government officials to get information belonging to the people?

The Department of Justice should review their interests in the Asset and Forfeiture funds and in other areas.

It’s a shame the Mayor and City Council refuse to do it.


  1. I'm kinda confused when the city says they don't have any more money for police and fire department salaries, but they continue to give cmpd money for surplus cars, tasters (the old ones still worked). I understand budgets are tight but they seem to be reckless. They give money to their departments for improvements or new items but do not give any city employees raises.

  2. maybe budgets are tight because they're reckless

  3. Two points:

    Do not point out their inconsistencies to them. Ask questions in such a way that instead have them on record saying mutually exclusive things. Do not send emails to multiple recipients. Engage them individually, which also increases the chances of mutually exclusive responses.

    Second, take them up on the telephonic offer. Tell them you will be recording the audio of the call and transcribing it for public disclosure on this site. In fact, make clear that hence forth, you intend to record ALL telephonic conversations with city of Charlotte employees and that conversing with you telephonically constitutes their agreement to being recorded.