Editor and Publisher
John H. Walker
Damon D. Williams, 32, an advocate of community policing, will become the first black chief of police in Tarboro history.
“I’m excited and looking forward to the opportunity,” Williams said Thursday night.
Williams, who currently serves as police chief of Maxton, will assume the new duties of the job, which pays $61,200 plus benefits, after he meets his required notice with his current employment and passes a battery of psychological and other tests.
“We expect it will be a minimum of 30 to 35 days before he will be here,” said Town Manager Alan Thornton.
Williams is a strong proponent of community policing, an initiative that works to develop a working relationship between the police and community and the community and police.
“I’m very community policing oriented,” Williams said. “We gear a lot of programs toward our youth and a lot of programs where police and community interact.”
Williams said the approach allows a department to be proactive, rather than reactive, an issue brought up more than once at recent town council meetings by Ward 7 representative Taro Knight.
Thornton said Williams’ background in community policing was a strong factor in his hiring.
“It (conversion to and acceptance of community policing) will take time, but I think it will be good for the community,” he said.
According to Williams, the addition of youth-related programs have helped lower crime in his community.
“We have seen a major decrease in crimes across the board,” he said. “We had a gang problem and we are cutting into that and the youth programs are a part of that.
“We do a lot of youth programs,” he emphasized.
Williams has developed a reputation as an effective leader and has been successful in implementing numerous changes since arriving in Maxton, including creating a K-9 program with two full-time officers.
Additionally, he has added a gang officer and evidence technician to the department while purchasing a new radio system, eight new patrol vehicles obtained through a USDA grant and new weapons.
Ward 6 representative Melvin Muhammad said Thursday afternoon that while he had not yet met Williams, he had no problem with the next chief coming from outside the department.
“We hired a manager and I think we need to leave it up to him to do the best job he can,” Muhammad said. “This has been a very long process and I’m pretty sure he did his due diligence.”
Ward 5 representative Candis Owens said, “From what I know and hear, I like it (news of the hiring).”
Williams, a native of Baltimore, holds a BS in Criminal Justice from Fayetteville State University and is currently working on his masters in administration from Columbia Southern University, an online institution based in Orange Beach, Ala.
He became a certified police officer in 2005, serving in uniform in Taylortown (Pop. 845) until he was named chief in 2007. Prior to becoming a policeman, Williams said he worked in law enforcement education for six years.
In May 2010, he was named chief of police of Maxton’s 11-officer department. Maxton, which straddles the Robeson and Scotland County lines near the South Carolina border, has a population of 2,551.
Thornton said there were more than 30 applicants for the position, which became available with the October 2011 retirement of Jay Boykin.
He said the fact the department had veteran officers in position of leadership allowed him the opportunity to conduct a thorough search.
“I want to thank interim chief (Bill) Braswell for his service in this period,” he said. “I also want to thank the public for their patience in this process and for understanding the importance of the task.”
Thornton said a reception would be held for the new chief, his wife and three children when they arrive in Tarboro.
“I would ask the community to be welcoming to them,” he said.