Local News

Fayetteville police chief to retire: 'It's time to take care of myself'

Posted August 23, 2016 3:50 p.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2016 7:02 a.m. EDT

— Police Chief Harold Medlock announced Tuesday that he is retiring after almost four years in charge of the Fayetteville Police Department.

Medlock, 59, said he will step down at the end of December, ending his 28-year law enforcement career. But he plans to take a medical leave of absence, starting Oct. 1, to have surgery on his right shoulder and arm.

"I am the luckiest man in the world to be able to have done this job," he said at a news conference. "Now it's time to take care of myself, get rid of these nagging injuries that I have and take care of myself and take care of my family."

Medlock joined the Fayetteville Police Department in February 2013 after two stints with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. 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.

"It's a completely different time, it's a different atmosphere and it's a different culture," Mayor Nat Robertson said, reflecting on the changes Medlock has brought to the police department. "He's embraced community police and has been recognized by the White House for some of the things he has done in turning the city around.

"This is the best department in North Carolina, and it's the best department because of the chief and his leadership," Robertson said.

Medlock credited the abilities of the department's higher ranks for allowing him to step aside, noting they have taken on a growing leadership role in planning and operations.

"I have found myself increasingly standing as a spectator in many critical incidents, a lot of planning operations and some very large events for our city," he said. "These guys have really taken the reins and have moved forward."

Interim City Manager Doug Hewett said he plans to meet with Medlock in the coming weeks to draw up a strategy to recruit a new police chief.