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The Daily Tar Heel

Chris Blue to assume police chief role

New leader is ‘guardian of the hill’

Chris Blue

Chris Blue is named Chapel Hill’s new police chief by Town Manager Roger Stancil on Monday, Nov. 15, 2010. Blue will officially take office on Dec. 1, 2010.

Chris Blue will never forget the day the day he joined the Chapel Hill Police Department 13 years ago.

“I love Chapel Hill, and I’ve been here most of my life,” he said. “The day that I got a job offer to be a police officer here was one of the best days of my life.”

Blue, who is currently the assistant chief of police, will become the leader of the police force Dec. 1, Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil announced Monday. A formal swearing-in ceremony for Blue will come later, Stancil said.

Blue will replace current chief Brian Curran, who will retire Nov. 30.

“I’ve been a Chris Blue fan for a long time,” Curran said. “He’s had a variety of jobs at the department, especially since I was appointed chief.

“I’ve been really impressed with how smart he is, how much energy he has and his ability to lead. He’s going to be a really good fit for this town.”

After Curran announced his retirement this past spring the town began vetting Blue in June, Stancil said.

Instead of conducting a national search, he said the town decided to use its time and money to look for an internal candidate.

The department’s two assistant chiefs and three captains were declared eligible, but Stancil said only Blue indicated he wanted the job.

“We put him through a series of real-life exercises over that last few months to assess his capabilities to lead this department, and he passed those with flying colors,” he said.

Under his supervision, Blue said the police department will continue to work with UNC to fulfill its self-described role as “guardians of the hill.”

“We take our role of guardians of our University community very seriously, and we will continue to emphasize that role of keeping the University a safe place for living and learning,” he said.

As a UNC alumnus, Blue said he understands that students often feel targeted by police officers but said that isn’t their goal.

“Our primary interest is keeping the young men and women in our community who come here to learn and to plan for the rest of their lives.

“We want to make this as safe and as healthy of a community as we possibly can.”

Among his priorities, Blue said he will reallocate officers to increase police visibility.

He said residents already say they feel safe, but would like to see more officers on the street to enhance their feeling of security.

“I would think in the next six to 12 months you would see increased deployment of officers, particularly downtown,” Blue said.

Stancil said town growth will create many of the challenges Blue will face as chief.

“It’s a different world than when this was the village of Chapel Hill,” he said.

For now, Blue said he will continue to work hard as an assistant chief.

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“I’m ready to get to work and help take some things off Chief Curran’s plate the last few weeks while he’s here,” Blue said.

“It’s an honor to lead this place.”

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