ZEBULON — The wait is almost over. The town of Zebulon will soon have a new police chief. And she means business.
Donna Waters has been in law enforcement all her adult life. Now age 35, Waters will head her own department. She takes over as Zebulon's chief of police September 8th.
"I'm looking forward to that, to get to know the people again. In Jacksonville, i got to know a lot of the folks that lived in town, and it was a wonderful relationship."
The first female chief in Zebulon, she started as a police officer in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Since 1993, she's been assistant chief of police at RDU airport.
She takes over a unit filled mostly with men, a department that's seen its share of troubles, like an officer arrested for illegally using credit cards taken from a suspect. The department hasn't had a leader for more than a year, falling instead under the fire chief under the umbrella of public safety.
"It's a question of delineation of authority," said John Koffa, Zebulon town manager. "We sensed that the police department needed its own leadership."
"I think we're all ready for a chief to come in and somebody who we know is going to be here, and be here for a while," said Officer Deborah Hargett, Zebulon Police Department.
A strict disciplinarian, Waters has already told her officers she expects honesty and integrity - two things designed to repair damaged public relations and boost morale.
"We've got to train. We've got to learn about each other," said Waters. "We've got to learn whether we can do the right things and get away from the wrong."
And concentrate on the top priority, keeping the peace.
Until she's sworn in, Waters will divide her time between the airport and the Zebulon town hall. Her first priority is to sift through employment applications to fill two openings on the force.