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WUNC reports from Greensboro about Guilford County and surrounding area.

Greensboro Residents Weigh In On Selection Of Next Police Chief

Barber Park
Naomi Prioleau
A dozen or so residents met with two members of the Greensboro Police Department to talk about what they'd like to see in the next police chief.

Residents of Greensboro have been offering a wide range of opinions on who should be the city's next police chief. They've been offered during a series of community input meetings, conducted by the police department.

Wayne Scott announced his retirement in August. He's been with the Greensboro Police Department for 28 years and was named chief in 2015. He officially retires January 31, 2020.

"It's time," Scott said at a press conference earlier this year. "I want to go spend some time with my family and enjoy the next stage in my life."

For the past year, Scott and the police department have been criticized by some residents for how they handled the death of Marcus Smith.

Smith died last year under police custody. Since then, local activist organizations and others have spoken out against Scott and repeatedly come to city council meetings, demanding he be fired.

When asked at a press conference in August if Smith's death and the criciticsm influenced his decision to retire, Scott replied that it had not.

"I've been eligible for retirement some time," he said. "We have concerns, I’ve expressed concerns related to that particular incident."

At the community input meetings, residents have had taken the chance to speak freely and openly about what characteristics and traits they’d like to see in the next police chief.

"Fairness," said Gregory Moody. "Have a community output and be all around for the community not just one community but all communities."

Others, like Thomasenia Green Cotton, want a new chief to be familiar with the inner workings of the department.

"The understanding of human resources, I kept saying that in the meeting because to me that's important," she said. "Organizational behavior.  Human resources. If you have expertise in those two areas, you can make it happen."

Resident Sylvia Standbach does not feel hopeful about the search because she's seen how bad it can be to bring in a police chief not familiar with the state or city.

"I can only reference it from experience but I would hope change would come," she said. "I would hope that, but from past experience I hope it's not going to be more of the same."

The city will develop a candidate profile and soon begin accepting applications.

Naomi P. Brown joined WUNC in January 2017.
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