Local News

Incoming Fayetteville chief shares color of her personality, family, policing philosophy

Posted July 7

— In just over a month, Fayetteville's new police chief will be on the job.

Gina Hawkins is a mother, experienced law enforcement leader and a woman of color. She shared some of her personality and her philosophy with WRAL's Gilbert Baez from her office in Clayton County, Georgia.

Inspired by family ties

Lining a shelf in that office are the angel figurines she collects, that she says spiritually inspire her as she does her law enforcement job every day.

Hawkins also has a shelf of inspirational texts side-by-side with photos of her real-life angels, two daughters.

"These are a few of the books that have guided me along the way" she says, "and my special angels, my baby, Trinity, and my oldest, Italia."

Sixteen-year-old Trinity will be finishing high school in Fayetteville. Italia, 26, is just getting out of the Navy and will stay in the Atlanta area.

Family is important to the new police chief. Her father was black, her mother Panamanian.

"I've been a minority all of my life," she says. "That's what I consider myself. I was raised black, and I consider myself black, but I also know that I'm Hispanic and Latino."

Hawkins is making plans to have matriarch of her family – 98-year-old Auroro Esquivel, who lives in Panama – by her side when she's sworn in as Fayetteville's new chief.

"We are working hard to see if she can make the swearing in ceremony. That would be awesome," Hawkins says.

Hands-on but ready to lead

Currently deputy chief in Clayton County, Hawkins was named Fayetteville's top cop on June 27 after a grueling and extensive interview process.

She responded well enough to beat out two other finalists, including Fayetteville Interim Police Chief Anthony Kelly. When making the announcement, City Manager Doug Hewitt said he was impressed with Hawkins' attention to detail during the interview process.

She described her process as, "I'm always going to look for, 'What else are we missing? Did we cover and issue? Did we cover something a community member may need? Are we covering all our bases? Did we do the investigation properly.'"

Hawkins brings 28 years of law enforcement experience to Fayetteville, and is well aware of the local history of tension between police and community.

She becomes one of four women of color who are top cops in North Carolina cities. She'll leverage existing relationships as she settles into her new role.

She said of Durham Chief C.J. Davis, "We've had meetings together. We've had conferences that we've hosted together, so we've worked together and we're friends. In fact, I'm going to be very honest, she's the one who called me and said, 'Hey, you don't want to apply for the job in Fayetteville?' So she's actually the one who made that phone call."

Hawkins plans to make the move to Fayetteville on Aug. 14, and her swearing in is scheduled for Aug. 18.

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