— Kevin Jones • December 2016
In a time of increasing tension between police departments and their citizens across the nation, Rolesville Police Chief Bobby Langston is determined that this town will be a part of the solution, not the problem. On November 3, the Rolesville Police Department held its very first Chat with the Chief at Rolesville Town Hall as part of the department’s ongoing efforts to engage directly with the people of Rolesville on police issues.
“The goal of Chat with the Chief is to engage our citizens and continue to build trust and transparency within the community,” Langston said.
That philosophy led to the creation of Coffee with a Cop this past February as an activity where citizens could freely discuss police issues with officers over morning coffee. Now Chat with the Chief is an alternative platform where citizens who don’t have free time to go to an event on a weekday morning may still have an opportunity to speak directly and openly with the police department.
This commitment to transparent law enforcement is shared by Town Manager Bryan Hicks, who also attended.
“When I hired Chief Langston, I knew we were getting someone who had similar goals as me. We both want our Police Department to be reachable, communicative, friendly and open to everyone,” Hicks said. “This Chat with the Chief program is just another tool in our toolbox to allow that relationship to get even better.”
The one-hour Chat with the Chief was divided into two parts: a presentation by the police chief followed by an unfettered question-and-answer session. Langston’s presentation outlined important police statistics as well as the department’s ongoing community outreach programs.
Langston particularly emphasized the growing diversity of the department, with its 72% white and 28% non-white personnel accurately reflecting the ethnic makeup of the community, a rarity among most small town police forces. In a further gesture of both transparency and the department’s quest to eliminate racially biased policing, Langston shared traffic stop statistics from the past month indicating that no ethnic group was stopped proportionally more often than any other.
Langston also informed citizens about more than a dozen outreach programs the Rolesville Police were involved with in the community, including a summer camp run entirely by police officers called Camp Care, DARE programs at three elementary schools in the area, and Shop with a Cop, a program where police help less-fortunate kids shop for Christmas.
The heart of Chat with the Chief is the questions from the citizens, which covered topics ranging from clarification on the laws of texting while driving to the extent of police involvement in helping independent community watch organizations.
Langston approved of the way this chat turned out, saying, “This is an opportunity for the community and police to come together and engage in making our town safer for all.”
The next Chat with the Chief will be held on February 2.