Rountree recalls community work as he departs WSPD

Rountree recalls community work as he departs WSPD
August 31
04:00 2017

When Chief Barry Rountree joined the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) in 1988, he didn’t initially plan to be there long. Just a year removed from his undergraduate studies at Winston-Salem State University, Rountree said although he was always interested in law enforcement, he never thought he would become a career police officer.

“When I originally became a police officer my goal was to do it a few years maybe use it as stepping stone for something else,” said Rountree.  “But as I began to work and see what policing was all about, I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing.”

Today, a few promotions and almost 30 years later, Rountree will finally walk away from the job he planned to use as a stepping stone when he retires from the department.

Rountree quickly moved up the ranks on his journey to become the departments 14th chief of police. He was promoted to senior officer after just four years on the job. In 1996, he was promoted to sergeant, lieutenant in 2000, and captain in 2004. He also worked in the professional standards division, support services bureau, field services bureau, and the investigative services bureau before being promoted to chief in 2013.

Although he had a number of memorable days as an officer, Rountree said his fondest memories will be the days he spent on foot patrol. He said he was assigned to Happy Hill Gardens, which gave him the opportunity to go beyond the call of duty.

“We answered calls but we did a lot of programs and events with people in the community,” Rountree said.

As chief, Rountree made it his goal to connect with people in the community the same way he did during his patrol days in Happy Hill. Under the leadership of Rountree, the WSPD has worked to build working relationships with the people they serve and community organizations. Rountree is also the mastermind of the Winston-Salem Police Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the capacity of the local police to be more effective in improving public safety.

When asked about his plans for retirement, Rountree said he still serves on several boards and will continue to be active in the community. Even in his last week on the job, Rountree made an appearance at the Welcome Tunnel coordinated by the Triad Mentoring Coalition at Ashley Elementary on the first day of school.

“I was at the tunnel at Ashley because I believe education can change a lot of things. That’s why I felt it was important for me to be there. I’m still involved with a lot of organizations in the community, so I’ll still be doing things like that in future.” Rountree said.

Catrina Thompson, who was announced as Rountree’s successor last week, is expected to be sworn in tomorrow Friday, Sept. 1. Thompson has spent her entire 23 years in law enforcement with the WSPD and has served as assistant chief since 2015. Rountree said the department and the city will be in good hands.

“She’s going to do a great job and bring in a lot of good ideas. The city is in good hands, in my opinion there is nothing to worry about,” continued Rountree. “She knows the city and on top of that she’s qualified and capable. She’ll be prepared.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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