Putney Honored With Distinguished Service Award

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney ’92, the 2020 UNC Charlotte Distinguished Service Award winner, was honored on March 12, 2020 for his strong leadership, listening ear and reputation as a community and relationship builder.

“We at UNC Charlotte witnessed his strength, leadership and compassion first hand following the tragedy of April 30, 2019, and in the following days,” Chancellor Philip L. Dubois said during a luncheon held in Putney’s honor in the Popp Martin Student Union. “The overwhelming support and kindness we received from Kerr, his team and the Charlotte community helped carry us through.”

Dubois said Putney was a distinguished alumnus as well as a “terrific community partner.”

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes people who have been dedicated to the University and have helped shape it and the community in significant ways.

“I’m honored. I appreciate it. I won’t let you down,” Putney said after accepting the award. 

Putney has dedicated his life to policing the Charlotte community. He started his career with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in August 1992, shortly after graduating from UNC Charlotte with a bachelor’s degree in criminology. He earned a master’s degree in criminology from East Carolina University in Greenville. Putney worked in various patrol, training and other special assignments before being named chief in June 2015.

Putney and his department helped shepherd UNC Charlotte during and after the tragic shooting on campus April 30, 2019.

Arkevious Armstrong, a community activist who runs a leadership and social development program for young adults, said it’s typical of Putney to lend a hand wherever it’s needed. 

“When I call him, he answers,” said Armstrong, founder of Step Up To Leadership. “When I give him an idea, he believes in it. And the thing is, he just doesn’t listen, he always extends a helping hand.” 

The Distinguished Service Award, established in 1987 by the Board of Trustees of UNC Charlotte and the Board of Directors of the University Foundation, honors those who have provided outstanding leadership and exemplary service to the Charlotte community and to the advancement of UNC Charlotte. Each recipient of the award receives a statue of a gold miner, cast from a sculpture by artist Lorenzo Ghiglieri.

Image: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney (from left) receives the award from Board of Trustees Chair Michael L. Wilson and Chancellor Philip L. Dubois.

Words: Jonnelle Davis