By Gary Tyson
Having served 30 consecutive years in law enforcement, I bring a unique perspective to building partnerships with law enforcement and the community.
The foundation of a good police officer is having a heart and passion to serve others. Law enforcement is so much more than a job. Every day you impact folks’ life one way or the other. A great officer uses his or her hours on duty to get as much face time in with the community they serve as possible. Trust equity is built during these informal interactions.
I learned a long time ago that folks do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to hear a young man speak at a Boys & Girls Club banquet in Sanford. During his speech, he asked me to stand up. He then stated, “This man used to come by my apartment when I was a kid on James Street to check on me and my sister and mom.” He said, “Officer Tyson let me sit in his police car.” He stated, “Officer Tyson is the reason that I wanted to become a police officer.”
Hearing this successful young man say these words validated my lifelong belief that spending time with young people is a great investment in the future of our next generation of leaders.
While many cities and towns are struggling to find good police candidates to enter the law enforcement profession, a retired captain with Apex Police Department came up with a unique idea to attract good police candidates.
He founded a police preparatory college in 2017, becoming the only police preparatory college in the country. Many of his students are straight out of high school and not old enough to come into the law enforcement profession yet. But his two-year police preparatory curriculum teaches community policing and compassionate policing skills to his students. This training allows them to gain the necessary skills that will help them be better officers as they enter into the honorable law enforcement profession.
If we are going to get past these challenging times, each of us has got to do our part. We must not just meet and break bread on National Night Out, but we need to meet on regular days and evenings to get to know each other better. Us versus them has never worked.
We as a community must come together with a common purpose of leaving no one behind.
Gary Tyson worked for the Sanford Police Department for 16 years and the North Carolina Department of Correction for three years. He was the chief of the Siler City Police Department for 11 years until his retirement in 2019.