NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Three police firings came on the first day on the job for Wilmington’s first black police chief, Donny Williams.
WWAY’s Lakeeda Johnson sat down to talk with Williams about his plans and the action he has already taken.
Williams has been serving the community for 30 years.
He is a native of Wilmington and has always had it in his heart to protect the place he calls home, and uplift those in it.
“One of the moments that I get probably the most excitement out of, is every year that we do our Cop Camp Summer Program. That program is so important because that’s an idea that I came up with as a young officer back in 1995,” Williams said.
It gives children the chance to interact with law enforcement.
Williams said he began working with the department back in 1989 as a summer youth intern, then a police cadet before he was sworn in as a Wilmington police officer in 1992.
During his three decades of serving, Williams has become the first person of color to achieve several milestones.
“I’m the first resident of public housing. I’m the first police cadet, I guess I could be the first Laney High School graduate,” Williams expressed.
And now, he is the first black police chief in the department.
Wilmington City Council promoted Williams last week and he immediately took action by terminating three officers for using racial slurs and hate-filled speech caught on camera.
“The hard part and concerning part was how do we communicate this to the public?” Williams questioned. “And it’s hard because the times that we’re in as far as trust and transparency, and those parts were just so so important to me.”
Williams added that he and other city leaders made the decision together for the integrity of the agency.
He said his future plans for the city include special training for all officers.
“We’re going to do implicit bias training for all employees. If they’ve had it already then they’re going to be required to do a refresher course,” Williams said. “This is not negotiable, this is mandataed.”
Williams said starting next week, he will be meeting with the department’s officers and corporals to explain his expectations and hear their thoughts about what happened last week.
Williams also said once it is safe to do community outreach, the department will be able to get back into its flow.
Another point Williams made was that moving forward, he will not be doing as many speaking engagements because he wants his officers to also interact with the community.
“I’m not saying that I don’t want to do it,” Williams expressed. “If I continue to do these engagements people will not get to know our police officers, so what we’re going to do, is I may show up with an officer and I may turn it over to the officer and leave.”