Candidates for police chief take center stage

Catrina Thompson and Cameron Selvey

Candidates for police chief take center stage
August 24
03:00 2017

Before the end of the month, the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) will have a new chief.  The two finalists vying for the position, Cameron Selvey and Catrina Thompson, recently sat down with local residents to answer questions and discuss their plans for the future of the department during a public forum held at City Hall. 

A decision on the next chief of police is expected to be made before Chief Barry Rountree’s last official day on Sept. 1. The new chief will lead a department with 570 sworn officers and 173 civilian positions, and an annual budget of $74.5 million.

Selvey and Thompson were selected from 100 applicants from across the country. Over the past few weeks the finalists completed a series of exercises to show their skills. Both candidates submitted a written response on the key challenges in the city, participated in a simulated community meeting, and presented a presentation.  Each of the exercises was graded by a group of community members and city officials who have been trained to evaluate the candidates.

During the forum held on Wednesday, Aug. 16, the two candidates shared their thoughts on a number of topics including gun violence, overall crime in the area, race relations, and several other topics. After the event, it was clear that both candidates have the credentials to lead, and both had supporters in the community.

“Both candidates would do a wonderful job in the role of Chief but my vote is for Catrina Thompson,” said Bishop Todd Fulton, former president of the Minsters’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity.

Fulton, who leads the conferences’ social justice organization, said the relationship Thompson already has with the community is something you can’t get anywhere else. He noted Thompson’s cooperation with the Ministers’ Conference during the Travis Page incident in 2015. Page died while in police custody.

Many people took to social media to share their thoughts on who the 15th chief of police in the Twin City should be. Tonya McDaniel, third vice president of the local NAACP branch, wrote her vote was for Selvey because of his experience in homicide. She also mentioned the number of homicide cases that are still open. McDaniel, who lost her son to senseless violence, said cries for answers have gone unanswered for too long.

She wrote, “I have a group of mothers, fathers, family, and friends who have active homicide cases with the city of Winston-Salem Police Department that are still unsolved,” she continued. “We the people of Forsyth County are ready for something different. I believe Selvey would be a great start to a new journey the city of Winston-Salem Police Department needs.”

For the past 25-years, Selvey has served the Charlotte Mecklenberg Police Department. He currently serves as commander of the Criminal Investigative Bureau, where he supervises 10 different investigative units. He has also served on the Internal Affairs Bureau, the Field Service Group, and Public Affairs in the past. Selvey has a bachelor’s degree from UNC-Charlotte and a master’s from Pfeiffer University.

Selvey said he made it a personal goal a few years ago to become a police chief. He said he is confident that the WSPD and the Winston-Salem community is the right fit for him. As chief, Selvey said one of his goals will be to strengthen the relationship between the department and the community.

“A community is a larger family and what I’m looking to do when I move into this position is look at ways to strengthen relationships. One of the first things I plan to do is establish a chief policing advising committee that will meet regularly,” said Selvey. “It’s very important that the community has a say in how your police department functions and how your police department runs because ultimately this department belongs to the community of Winston-Salem,” Selvey said.

Thompson has spent her entire 23-year career with the WSPD and currently serves as the assistant chief in charge of the Investigative Services Bureau and one of the commanders of the Crisis/Hostage Negation Team. She has also served in the Patrol Division, Recruiting Unit, Training Division, and the Criminal Investigation Division. Thompson has a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University, and a master’s from Appalachian State University. According to a press release, Thompson is also currently enrolled in the Public Executive Leadership Academy of the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill.

When discussing her plans for the department along with growing public trust, Thompson said she will ensure the WSPD is growing future leaders. She said, “I believe it is my duty and my responsibility and I believe our community deserves that. We have been through some trying times and some very tough times.

“Some of the people right here in this room have seen my ability to lead and keep our community safe when chaos was knocking at our door. That’s the type of leadership I intend to bring.” 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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