Winston-Salem State University police chief retires after more than 40 years in law enforcement

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Sorting through old files and packing up her bulletproof vest, Winston-Salem State University Police Chief Patricia Norris looked back on more than 10 years on campus.

She was named chief at WSSU in 2008 after leading the Winston-Salem Police Department for four years.

Since then, Norris says she’s proud of her work to get the department accredited and to improve security measures like campus cameras and ID scanners at residence halls.

“It’s just amazing what you see and what folks think we don’t see, so it really has helped a lot in terms of investigations and finding out who did what,” Norris said.

She also led the first mass casualty drill at WSSU and reduced crime by shutting down some campus entrances at night.

“Discharging firearms, robberies, larcenies, fights, things of that nature,” Norris said. “So it really did reduce the crime on campus by 27 percent.”

The WSSU alum was the first African-American to be named chief of police in Winston-Salem.

“I was given that opportunity, and I was so elated when I got it,” Norris said. “We really opened up doors for folks to communicate with police and the public.”

She said one of her greatest strengths was connecting with members of the community and encouraging a dialogue between the public and officers.

“When someone lives within the community, someone knows the makeup of the community, someone knows the spirit of the community, they know who makes things happen within the community, I think that person does a really great job in leading an agency,” Norris said.

She also served as the first woman and African-American president of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police.

Norris says following more than 40 years in law enforcement, it’s simply time for her to retire. She plans to travel with her husband and spend time with the couple’s 12 grandchildren.

She said Monday that because of an endowment made by her family, the building that houses campus police will be named in her honor.

“For my grandkids, I think they saw the hours, the work, the time that I put in, so I don’t know if I can persuade any of them to become police officers, but I don’t know. We’ll see. The legacy may continue,” Norris said.

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