Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh police chief Harry Dolan said Tuesday he will work to maintain the police department's success in the community but also will look ahead at some of the city's biggest challenges, including growth, to ensure achievement.
"With that growth comes a lot of challenges," Dolan said on his first day as police chief. (I'll ) look at today's needs, but also two or three years down the road – what are the needs going to be? And the better job we do planning for that and preparing will directly correspond to the quality of life in the community."
Last month, Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen hired Dolan, who previously served nine years as the police chief for the Grand Rapids Police Department in Michigan, to replace former police Chief Jane Perlov.
Part of Russell's decision was based on input from the community and Raleigh police officers – with both of whom Dolan said he wants to maintain open communication.
"A lot of the success and initiatives are really, truly because of the quality of the men and women of this police department – sworn and civilian. They're extraordinary and always have been," Dolan said. "And how we move into the future is going to be based on good dialog with the community, what their priorities are and looking internally."
Officers have complained of being overworked and said that Perlov's six-district policing system, which helped reduce crime across the city, compromised safety and caused low morale among employees.
Dolan said he wants to keep moving forward with that initiative and others that Perlov put in place over her five-year tenure and that he is committed to making sure officers have the resources they need to do their jobs.
"You're running a large organization, and that organization is directly responsible for public safety in a community. You should be innovative, progressive, but at the same time, you have to be fundamental," Dolan said. "That means you have to make sure that there are officers in the areas that they need to be and (that) we're covering the most basic public safety needs of the community so when they call 911, we're there."
Prior to taking the job as police chief in Michigan, Dolan spent 18 of his 27 years of law enforcement in North Carolina. Prior to Grand Rapids, he served as police chief in Lumberton and for the North Carolina Department of Human Resources Police Department in Black Mountain. He also served as a Raleigh police officer from 1982 to 1987.
"My first day is getting to know everyone," Dolan said. "It's been very exciting to be back in Raleigh and to be here in the police department that I've thought so positively of for so many years."
In recent weeks, the Grand Rapids Police Department opened an internal investigation into "personal conduct issues" following a federal court ruling upholding a sexual harassment lawsuit against the department.
Dolan said he met those challenges head-on and that they would not affect his ability to lead in Raleigh.
"You do what you think is the right thing to do based on all the available information," he said. "You confer and consult, and then, at the end of the day, you do sleep well, because you did what was in everyone's best interest."