Fayetteville, N.C. — A deputy police chief in Charlotte was named Wednesday as the new chief of the Fayetteville Police Department.
Harold Medlock, who most recently oversaw security at the Democratic National Convention for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said he was thrilled to take the reins in Fayetteville, calling the position the "capstone" of his law enforcement career.
Medlock, 55, has worked in the Charlotte department for more than 20 years and has headed one of the agency's two Field Services Groups since 2008, meaning he commanded 800 officers. By comparison, the Fayetteville Police Department has 350 officers.
During his career, he has served as the commander of the Training Academy, been a SWAT team negotiator and a Civil Emergency Unit commander and overseen such specialized units as Transit Policing, Special Events and Secondary Employment.
"I bring a tremendous amount of enthusiasm (to the job)," he said at a news conference. "I'm a cop. I still love doing this work. I've been doing this a long time. I like interacting with the community."
The biggest challenge he sees in Fayetteville is combating gun violence, although property crimes cannot be ignored because they affect more people.
"We have to stop people from shooting each other," he said. "I'm concerned about crime all of the time. My focus is always reducing crime."
The other finalist for the post was Malik Aziz, deputy police chief in Dallas, Texas, and chairman of the National Black Police Association. He would have been the first black police chief in Fayetteville.
The department has for months been embroiled in controversy after complaints that officers were unfairly stopping black drivers. Some in the community say the police force needs to restore trust.
"I've not really sensed any great mistrust or distrust between the community and the police department," Medlock said of his discussions with Fayetteville officials and residents while seeking the position. "What I'm asking the community to do is give me a chance, get to know who I am."
City Councilman Bill Crisp said Medlock knows North Carolina and is a perfect fit for Fayetteville.
"There is some tension that we know that exists within the black community versus the white community, and I believe he's the man who will bridge that divide," Crisp said.
Medlock is a graduate of Pfeiffer University, where he earned a degree in criminal justice and an MBA, as well as the FBI National Academy and the Senior Management Institute for Police. He is a member of the executive boards of the North Carolina Police Executives Association and the Carolinas Institute for Community Policing.
He will start on the job Feb. 18 to give him some time to wrap up projects in Charlotte and move with his wife.
"I love working in an environment where I can know folks," he said. "I'm looking forward to being able to know more people and engage more folks in dealing with crime and quality of life issues here in Fayetteville."
Former Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine retired last summer. Department veteran Katherine Bryant has served as interim chief, but she didn't seek the permanent position.