Local News

Fayetteville Takes Careful Look At Candidate For Police Chief

Posted April 29, 2001 3:04 a.m. EDT

— Legally, employers cannot consider a job applicant's marital status when making a hiring decision. Nonetheless, one of the two finalists for the police chief's position has drawn fire from some in Fayetteville.

City Manager Roger Stancil will make the final decision, but he wants lots of input before he does. The two candidates met with reporters to give their views of the job and how they would handle it.

The hot button issue is the fact that one candidate, Michael Boykin, career officer and former chief in Wilmington, Del., has three children out of wedlock. He answers critics this way.

"I know what kind of person I am. I know what kind of character I have. I know what kind of professional I am. And it has not deterred me from the responsibilities that I have and provided to my kids," says Boykin.

Thomas McCarthy now serves as chief of the Gaston county police department. He also addressed character.

"My definition is that you should lead with integrity, keep your word and obey the law," says McCarthy.

Criticism of Boykin does not sit well with some.

"I just don't think they should use that as their reasoning for hiring a police chief," says one citizen..

"I'm really for him not just because he's African-American, but because of his character and just reading about him," says Barbara Prescod.

The 389-person Fayetteville department serves the sixth largest city in the state and has been without a chief since Ron Hansen retired a year ago. Both Boykin and McCarthy emphasized the importance of community policing.

"What I've found is this is a very good police department and I'm real excited about the foundation that's been laid here," says McCarthy.

"There's a need to reach out to the community to have a better relationship with them, to bring about better understanding," Boykin says.

McCarthy and Boykin also addressed the issue of "perceived" racial inequities in the department. Both said they would use training and the officer selection process to improve the racial atmosphere.

Stancil says there is much more work to do before he announces his decision.