Losing the interim status: High Point’s new permanent police chief ready for the challenge

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HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — No one can argue Travis Stroud’s not experienced. Not many get a 9-month trial run at a job. But such was the case for him.

In late April, Stroud became High Point’s new police chief after spending that amount of time serving as interim chief.

Who knows what took so long! Perhaps it’s because the office of city manager was transitioning at the same time.

But when Stroud took his oath of office, it culminated a 25-year career with the department during which he’s worked himself up and held several different command positions. He’s also taken command of the department at a pivotal time.

I’ve watched and covered a lot of local police chiefs in my nearly 38 years in local TV news in North Carolina’s Piedmont-Triad.

Most I could read pretty easily. They communicated well. They placed a big emphasis on being transparent. They were usually available and approachable. In turn, the people they served were better informed.

Others, let’s just say if they didn’t return phone calls or it took several weeks to set up an interview— they were probably not that interested in dealing with the local media. Just about all of them left under clouds of suspicion.

I haven’t sensed that of Stroud. I was able to set up my recent interview with him within 10 minutes after I called.

One of my first questions when we sat down together was my observation he didn’t treat the job as “temporary” while he carried the title “interim.”

“And that’s the way I did look at it from the start,” he told me. “I felt like if I didn’t approach it like I was the chief of police, then we would stand still. And I don’t think you’re allowed to stand still in today’s environment.”

What prompted that question was what happened a day last February that would have been a tough test for any police chief, interim or permanent: three officers were shot during a standoff. They survived.

“Yes, it was probably my most stressful day (in his 25-year career),” he said. “Of course, when the phone rang, and I looked at it and I saw who was calling me, I was like, ‘this is not good.’”

But while watching the main news conference later that day, I remember being impressed with Stroud’s composure, candor and attention to detail.

The stories our team put together about what happened were easier to write and edit, in part, because Stroud didn’t leave many questions unanswered.

I remember thinking, “that didn’t sound like an ‘interim’ chief.”

Now, Stroud is taking all these skills forward as he and his 307-employee department face some difficult challenges ahead.

In the Newsmakers piece that accompanies this article, you’ll hear his thoughts on what he calls his department’s three main challenges: staffing, the changes in society that have put law enforcement under a lot more scrutiny and violent crime.

You’ll hear him describe each in detail and how he’s working to meet those challenges.

It will take the skills I’ve mentioned and probably a few more to do it, but you get the feeling he’s ready.

And again, you can’t say he’s not experienced.

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