By Julia Colborn
Captain Orlando Soto is the most recent addition to the Rolesville Police Department, and only a month in, he’s already an integral part of the multitude of changes currently being undergone.
He began his 13-year career as a patrol officer in Durham. In 2006, he moved to Knightdale, where he held a variety of positions – SWAT operator, detective sergeant, narcotics officer and most recently, lieutenant in charge of patrol supervision.
Two and a half years ago, when then-Captain Bobby Langston was brought onto the Rolesville police force, there were 11 full-time officers, two sergeants and an outdated record keeping system. Soto and Langston have congruent goals to better serve the community, and are working together to make improvements from the inside out.
Police involvement within the community is a high priority for both residents and the Police Department. Not only does the department provide more services such as conducting drinking-and-driving seminars, but Rolesville police have sought closer relationships with homeowners associations and community watch groups. Last year even saw the first grant for a summer camp for kids ages 9 through 12 courtesy of the Wake County ABC Board. Camp C.A.R.E. (Choices Accountability Respect Excellence) is a week-long camp that focuses on helping kids understand the need to make good choices and the consequences of their choices and is conducted at Rolesville High by the police department.
During the camp, which will have another run this summer, there are morning and afternoon enrichment discussions covering making good choices, the dangers of drugs and impairment, and various ways to be conscious of your actions and being a good role model. Scattered throughout the day are various sports games to keep the campers active and entertained. One of the main goals of the camp is to help facilitate the bigger goal of making officers more approachable.
One of the most impacting changes is the new software for filing reports and recording data. This new system, OSSI, closely mirrors technology used in many other law enforcement departments, including in Knightdale where Soto was also in charge of records management. The system even allows departments in other cities within the county to share data, enabling better communication between cities.
Budget allowing, officers will also soon be donning body cameras in addition to cameras already in their vehicles. This is a growing trend and allows for more accurate accounts of any instances that may occur, avoiding faulty recollections or discrepancies. Soon there will be a meeting with the District Attorney to ensure these cameras follow policy and are used within the law without compromising anyone’s rights.
In prior years, many officers just came to Rolesville for a year or two for the experience before moving on to a bigger city. In conjunction with the community focus, one of the goals is long-term continuity within the force. There now is a “career ladder” in place for officer growth and competitive salaries for the area, and both Soto and Langston agree “it’s a great place to work.”
Today, there are four sergeants, 16 full-time officers with plans for a 17th, two school resource officers and a new Investigations Department.
To accommodate all this, construction work is underway to add 1,200 square feet of office space to the Police Department building on South Main Street.
Chief Bobby Langston states the department’s goal best: “If you can make the difference in one person’s life, then you are successful in this job.”