Up & Coming Weekly had an opportunity recently to spend some time with outgoing Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock. He recently announced his retirement from police force because of a nagging shoulder injury. Chief Medlock has scheduled surgery for damage to his right shoulder rotator cuff and bicep - surgery he put off twice before this year because of his devotion to duty.
U&CW: No one saw this coming, Chief. You had said at the outset of your appointment almost four years ago that you’d be here for the long haul.
Medlock: I feel like I’ve done seven years of work in three-and-a-half years. When I arrived, there was a sense of urgency, and it became a seven-day a week job. To do the job right, it took a toll on me.
U&CW: Some say you’re abandoning the community and the PD, a relationship you’ve worked hard to develop.
Medlock: Frankly, they don’t need me anymore. The assistant chiefs, captains and lieutenants, literally all the men and women of the department, are up to the task. Our commanders have got it. They’re engaged in the community. The Fayetteville Police Department has become a national leader in law enforcement. I’m serving with the best police department in North Carolina.
U&CW: You invited the Justice Department to evaluate the department after you’d been here a couple of years.
Medlock: We have accomplished 90 percent of the 76 recommendations they made to improve the department. We deployed our body cameras in 45 days after receiving a half million-dollar federal grant. Most departments that received that grant have not even begun the process. I’ve promoted three young men to assistant chiefs and have a lot of confidence in them.
U&CW: People were so shocked at your unexpected decision to retire that they still find it hard to believe.
Medlock: I’m done! When I take this badge off for the last time, I’m through being a police officer. I don’t have any prospects and nobody has talked to me.
U&CW: It will be hard to find a replacement for you.
Medlock: There are so many people in the nation positioned to be a police chief now, and it would pay the city to look around.
U&CW: You had twice before planned to have surgery. Why did you keep putting it off?
Medlock: I’ve been shaking a lot of hands, smiling through the pain. I scheduled surgery in July, having cancelled an earlier appointment. My plan was to be out for seven days and return to work with my arm in a sling. Then came the massacre of the officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and I cancelled the second surgery. I felt I had to be here. It wasn’t the right time to be away.
U&CW: Are you sure the timing is right, now?
Medlock: The agency is fully equipped to deal with any contingency, with event operations in place for whatever occurs. I’ve been a stickler about preparing for anything. I feel like the department and community are better connected now. They just don’t need me anymore. I feel like I’ve done my job.
U&CW: Will you continue to live here, or move back to Charlotte?
Medlock: I don’t know if we’ll keep our home here. We have a condo at Oak Island and plan to spend a lot of time there. We love that beach. Gloria and I have families in Charlotte and we’re still trying to figure out what we’ll do.
U&CW: Are you looking forward to a change in lifestyle?
Medlock: It will be nice to have a little more control of my day. I have a hobby of restoring old motorcycles so I’ll tinker with those. I love to read and haven’t been able to. This community is in a good place. I can’t tell you what an opportunity it was to be this city’s police chief. God brought me here. He brought me here for a season and now I know it’s time to move on.