DURHAM — Durham's new police chief has made her mark less than a month after joining the force. Teresa Chambers is Durham's first female police chief, and she's bringing a new attitude to the job.
Several days ago, right at shift change, a Durham officer sent out a call for back-up. To the surprise of many officers, one of the first on the scene was new chief Teresa Chambers. While the response was refreshing, there's a lot more to being chief than answering calls. So far, the response to Chief Chambers has been very positive.
She comes to work wearing her ballistic vest, just like any other officer of the law. It's a commitment Chambers doesn't take lightly.
"I raised my hand and took the same oath as our other police officers here," Chambers explains.
Taking it seriously doesn't stop with the vest. The new chief also has her car outfitted with two-way communications and flashing lights. The chief's rank and file approach also helped win over Durham council members, council members who voiced concerns about some of Chambers' anti-crime proposals.
"Well, I don't know if I'd call it winning them over," admits Chambers. "I think the council and I have the same basic goals. That is is to increase the quality of life in Durham and to decrease violent crime. I welcome their healthy debate, and I've told many of them that I think it's their job to question expenditures and make certain that they can support the ideas we're coming up with at the police department."
Police ideas don't always play well in Durham's high crime areas. The $471,000 package Chief Chambers helped talk the council into includes two district attorneys to focus on habitual offenders, video cameras in all police cars and a mobile police station.
This is welcome news to business owners like Denise Hester who thinks it's unfair for legitimate businesses to be penalized while illegitimate businesses flourish.
The chief tells WRAL she is not showboating with the flak vest and the flashing lights. And no matter what the motivation, she's only one month into office. The effectiveness of her approach won't play out until she's been in office for several months.