Local News

Tasks for Raleigh's Next Top Cop: Gangs, Growth, Drugs and Visibility

Posted July 25, 2007 11:54 p.m. EDT
Updated August 23, 2007 7:34 p.m. EDT

— Gangs, drugs and growth: The ability to deal with these issues is among the qualities that Raleigh residents said they want in the city's new police chief.

The city sent out questionnaires asking the public for input on the top two finalists for the job and received around 300 responses.

Themes emerged among those responses: Along with being able to handle gangs, drugs and growth, the city's next top cop should communicate effectively and be in touch with the community.

The two candidates competing for the job are Samuel Kent Sholar, 46, Raleigh's acting chief, and Harry Patrick Dolan, 49, chief of the Grand Rapids, Mich., Police Department.

"The one thing that always comes across is they want a chief that's accessible," City Manager Russell Allen said of the responses.

Eugene Weeks, the head of his neighborhood's community watch program, said that gangs and drugs are a problem in Raleigh, but agreed that visibility would increase the police chief's ability to fight crime.

"If you hide behind the shield and you're never seen, then this is when you have a problem with crime rising," said Weeks.

James Smith, owner of Southgate Plaza Barber Shop, said that he would like to see the next police chief continue placing substations throughout the city.

Smith credited substations, such as the one next to his shop, with helping to reduce crime during the 20 years he has done business in Raleigh.

"He needs to be familiar with the city of Raleigh," said Smith.

Former Chief Jane Perlov is credited with reducing violent crime by more than 30 percent. She also decentralized the police department into six districts and focused on crime prevention.

The public can meet the two finalists at a forum from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday in the City Council chambers, 222 W. Hargett St.

The candidates will give presentations, and then Allen will ask them eight to 10 questions each. The candidates will have four minutes to respond to each question.

The public is being asked to give written feedback on the finalists after the forum by filling out comment cards and ranking the candidates.

Allen will ultimately decide whether Dolan or Sholar gets the job. He has given no hint when he might make that decision, but said that he values public input during the process.

"It's important for me to understand what people's expectations are of the chief law enforcement official in our community," said Allen.

Sholar is a 24-year veteran of the Raleigh Police Department, moving up the ranks from patrol officer to interim chief.

The Duplin County native holds degrees from Wake Technical Community College and North Carolina Wesleyan College and received additional training at the FBI National Academy and North Carolina State University.

Before moving to Michigan, Dolan spent 18 years in North Carolina law enforcement, serving in Raleigh and Lumberton.

The New York native holds degrees from Palm Beach Community College in Florida, Western Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and also attended a training program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Perlov resigned March 2 to head security for Bank of America in Charlotte.