Fayetteville, N.C. — Fayetteville's incoming police chief says one of his first objectives will be to build a relationship with the people.
"I don't think you can have any level of trust without having some sort of personal relationship with people," Harold Medlock said Thursday. "This is a people business, and all we bring to the table, as cops, are our people skills and abilities."
Medlock, a former deputy police chief for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, was hired last month to replace former Chief Tom Bergamine, who retired last summer.
The department has for month 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. Others say they don't feel comfortable with police.
Although Medlock says he's not sure yet if he thinks the police department suffers from an image problem, he says strong community relations are critical.
"It hurts me, as a police officer, when folks say they are afraid to call the cops," Medlock said. "We're the ones that folks should always feel comfortable calling. There's nobody else to call."
Medlock says he also believes it is important for police to be able to tell people as much as they possibly can about what's going on when they see blue lights in their neighborhood.
"I think it's incumbent on us to provide some level of information to them," he said, "so that the community does feel comfortable in knowing that we're there and we're in control."
"It may not be what folks want to hear, but folks deserve to hear the story," he said.
Medlock begins his job Monday and says that, over the first couple of weeks, he plans to meet with every member of his department through committee events and engagements.
At 55, he says, the position is the capstone of his career.
"This job, this city, this police department is the highlight of my career," he said.