NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — When Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous retires at the end of the month, a familiar face will head up the department.
Assistant Chief Donny Williams will become interim chief.
Williams is a Wilmington native who has spent nearly 30 years with the police department.
He says he did not see this new promotion coming his way.
“When I came into the organization, my goal was to make sergeant,” he said. “I actually did that in 2003, and I took the lieutenants test, and I took the captain’s test. After captain, I just figured maybe I’ll retire as a captain. And then things started to move again.”
He started at the police department in 1989 as summer youth intern, then a police cadet before he was sworn in as a Wilmington police officer in 1992.
Williams expressed, “now I’ve been selected to be Interim Chief.”
He says since the announcement, he and his family have received love and support from the community.
“Phone calls, text messages, emails. Everyday that I’m out in the community someone’s coming up and congratulating me, and it just feels good to know that people are proud of someone that didn’t come up under the best conditions, basically became successful.”
Williams says he grew up with a single mother and strong grandmother who pushed him.
After his grandmother died, his mother and the community raised him. They have a lot to do with where he is today.
“My mom had a lot of people in the community helping her out,” he said. “We had a very strong recreation director at Creekwood S. Recreation Center. There were Wilmington police officers I encountered at a young age, three of them.”
Williams said he wants officers to get more involved and build upon the community outreach the department is already doing.
Williams also started Cop Camp back in 1995, which connects cops with rising fifth graders. He says its impact still remains strong.
He is also a two time recipient of the Officer of the Year award.
While Williams’ list of accomplishments is extensive, he says connecting with the community is what matters most to him.