Charlotte Museum of History
Beneath the Badge, a partnership between the museum and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) explores the rich history of our area’s law enforcement and the work and character of the officers who have served this community. From morning roll call to night shift, visitors will glimpse the life of an officer on patrol. Words and pictures from actual local officers illustrate most days’ work, broken by the sudden surging adrenaline of intense situations. Special sections will provide an inside look at places like the crime labs and the communications center where 911 calls are answered.
Beneath the Badge will also address some of the difficult topics that CMPD and the Charlotte community have endured. All CMPD officers are proud to wear the badge, but some have had to struggle for the privilege to serve. Early African American officers were restricted to patrolling black neighborhoods and weren’t allowed to arrest whites. Tracy Barrett, hired in 1965 recalls that there was no socializing between white and black officers on the job and that a white officer quit after being assigned to a patrol car with him. But he also remembered that white officers who wouldn’t exchange pleasantries with him came quickly to his aid when he needed back-up on the job. Early women officers faced challenges too, including restrictive dress codes. “We were assigned cases where we would be chasing kids and wearing heels and dresses and that just didn’t cut it” remembers Captain Cheryl Williams Horner, hired in1967.
Beneath the Badge tells a rich and important story that will fuel civic pride and help the public understand the role police have played in this community for more than 100 years. It details the difficulties officers have faced, and the progress they have made in becoming partners with those they serve.
The citizens of Charlotte-Mecklenburg are the CMPD’s most valuable partners and through this project, will continue to collaborate with them in order to strengthen public trust, enhance quality of life, and ultimately build a safe and more secure community. The CMPD understands that community safety is a shared responsibility and look forward to Beneath the Badge becoming another meaningful opportunity to work with members of the community to educate, engage, and empower.