Fayetteville, N.C. — The interim police chief in Fayetteville said Thursday that she's confident the police department can move on from recent controversy and restore trust in the community.
Katherine Bryant, who has risen through the ranks over the past 25 years, took the helm of the police department last month from Tom Bergamine after he retired.
“I love what I do,” Bryant said. “I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and I know that this was my purpose. This is what I was supposed to do. Coming to work is enjoyable, and I think it’s wonderful when you can love your job.”
In the last year and a half, the Fayetteville Police Department has drawn complaints that officers engaged in racial profiling during so-called consent searches of vehicles. The searches are done during traffic stops when officers have no search warrants.
The City Council hired an outside consultant to review the department, and officers are now required to get written permission from drivers to do the searches.
A police advocacy group has sued the city, saying consent searches are legal and arguing that officials overstepped their authority.
"We've had some divided issues, and ... we've got to move forward on those issues," Bryant said. "We've got to come back together because both the City Council and the mayor and and the police department, we are still part of one community, one organization."
The outside consultant made 24 recommendations, and Bryant said some were already in the works at the time. Others, such as a proposed citizen review board to handle complaints against police, are still being discussed, she said.
"We have a few things to still work on, and the citizen review board is one of those, as well as the in-car cameras. We have most of our cars outfitted with in-car cameras,” she said.
Ted Voorhees, the newly hired city manager in Fayetteville, is expected to name a permanent chief in the near future. If Bryant is named as chief, she would be the first woman in that position in Fayetteville history.
"The fact that here I am right now as the interim is pretty amazing to me,” she said. "(Becoming the permanent chief is) definitely something I’ll have to strongly consider, looking at it both personally and professionally, making sure that whatever direction I choose is the best for both me and the department."