High Point police chief reflects on 2020

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HIGH POINT, N.C. — Stopping violent crime, getting homicide numbers down to zero and community outreach are just some of the goals the High Point Interim Chief of Police Travis Stroud has for this year.

“That could’ve been us. We’re not lost upon that fact. We’re not better than anybody else. We just happen to have better numbers this year,” Stroud said.

Stroud admits while the city has seen less violent crime, namely homicides, there’s always room for improvement.

“Clearly, we’re happy to drop from 19 to 14 (homicides), but the statement is still the same — it’s 14 too many. We’re not good with any number other than zero,” Stroud said.

The chief credits his officers for taking a lot of illegal guns off the streets.

“One of the biggest pushes for us as an agency was to take those illegal guns off the streets so they cannot be used in further crimes. We took 433 last year (2020),” he said.

While violent crimes remain their number one priority, last summer’s protests stemming from the police killing of George Floyd brought up important conversations the chief said needed to be had within police departments. He said racism won’t be tolerated here.

“You don’t need much evidence to show you that it just cannot be tolerated in this profession — period. You have just got to get rid of those bad apples,” Stroud said. “Really, it’s a whole lot easier if you don’t let those bad apples in.”

As they dive deeper into diversity training, diversifying their recruitment classes are front of mind too.

“People aren’t going to come in throw applications in anymore. You have got to go out and find qualified individuals who want to do this job and then convince them, this is where you want to come,” Stroud said.

Stroud said a big piece of the entire puzzle is community engagement — something they’re always working towards improving on.

COVID-19 has also impacted their budget because of overtime.

Stroud said as cases continue to go up, his officers are getting exposed more than they were before. Resulting in more officers quarantined. The department then must offset the absences by giving overtime pay to other officers.

Moving forward, Stroud hopes to get more body cameras to all officers rather than just the ones who interact with the public on.

“Way beyond the majority of the time it’s (body cameras) going to vindicate us more than hurt us. I tell my officers this, ‘It only takes one incident, bad one to hurt you,’” he said.

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