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Fayetteville police chief reflects on job upon retirement

After a 29-year career in law enforcement, Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock will hang up his badge on Friday.

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — After a 29-year career in law enforcement, Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock will hang up his badge on Friday.

Medlock, who came to Fayetteville almost four years ago, said Tuesday that some people come into your life for a season and others come for a reason. He has completed the reason he came to Fayetteville, so it's time to step aside.

"I'm confident that this group of police leaders and these police officers in this great city are going to soar this department," he said. "It is a national leader in policing. It will continue to be that."

During his tenure in Fayetteville, the department became one of the first law enforcement agencies in the state to equip its officers with body cameras. The department also has made more data on its policing publicly available, and it is implementing numerous suggestions for improvement made by the U.S. Justice Department after Medlock called inspectors in to help upgrade policies and procedures.

His focus has been on community policing. He wants his officers to really know the community, and he wants to regain the trust of the citizens they serve. The department's Running Man Challenge video helped on that front, scoring big with the community.

"The thing that people got from us, I think from the almost 15 million views we had out of that video, they saw the heart of the Fayetteville Police Department and the heart of our city," he said.

Medlock said he would like officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to likewise have a close relationship with residents of the Queen City, and he is saddened by the protests and distrust of the police there following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by a police officer a week ago.

"I wanted to be there because so many of those officers behind those shields and behind those gas masks were my officers," said Medlock, who was assistant police chief in Charlotte before coming to Fayetteville.

The core job of policing hasn't changed during his career, he said, noting that police officers do the work that nobody else wants to do.

"The dangerous stuff, we do that, and we do it well and we do it safely so that the bad guy and we go home at the end of the day," he said.

Medlock, 59, actually steps down at the end of December, but is taking a medical leave of absence, starting Saturday, to have surgery on his right shoulder and arm. He said he plans to continue to make Fayetteville home, although he also has a small place on Oak Island.

A crowd of lawmen and community leaders gathered at Village Baptist Church in Fayetteville on Tuesday for his retirement ceremony.