She’s the ‘Chief of Hearts’

October 05
09:00 2017

By Busta Brown
The Chronicle

“She’s coming in now,” whispers Winston-Salem businesswoman and Harvard grad Dr. Mercedes L Miller. Miller was speaking of the guest of honor; new Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina A. Thompson.

As she walked into The Delta Arts Center, hundreds of women loudly began to cheer, and the cheering lasted for about 10 minutes. She approached the podium, with tears slowly flowing from her eyes, someone from the audience quickly handed Thompson a tissue, and she gently wiped the tears away.

The police chief looked around at the huge audience, smiled with great appreciation and pride, and then responded with authority, yet very humble, “Never underestimate the power of women!” The audience lit the venue up with loud cheers again; she touched the hearts of the women and girls as young as 5 years old.  They came out to show their support for The Twin City’s new Police Chief; to hear what they can do help her succeed.

Thompson was officially sworn in Friday, Sept. 29, in a ceremony at the Benton Convention Center. Thompson assumed her duties as Winston-Salem’s 15th police chief on Sept. 1 upon the retirement of former Chief Barry Rountree.

She won my heart with her warm smile and beautiful spirit, something this country needs from our leaders in law enforcement. Although she’s not the first black female police chief in Winston-Salem, a mother of two said, “She’s definitely the one. She’s the one that will bring it all together.”  Pastor Gloria Samuels of Great Commission Community Church in Winston-Salem said, “The timing is perfect for a strong black women like Thompson to take charge.”

Catrina Thompson is a 23-year veteran of the Winston-Salem Police Department and served as the assistant chief in charge of the Investigative Services Bureau. As chief of police, she now leads a department with 570 sworn officers and 173 civilian positions, and an annual budget of $74.5 million.

Chief Thompson, 49, is a native of Detroit and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Wayne State University in Detroit and a master’s in public administration from Appalachian State University. She recently graduated from the 2017 Public Executive Leadership Academy of the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is also a graduate of the West Point Leadership Program of Methodist University, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Association program, and Leadership Winston-Salem, Class of 2016.

Thompson and her husband, Alonzo, have two children, Alyson and Christopher.

Go to Winstonsalem Chronicle YouTube channel to see Chief Thompson’s inspiring address to the audience, and my interview with the phenomenal woman that organized the event, Dr. Mercedes L Miller. I also spoke with some of the women and girls that came to show support.

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