The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 4th

Q&A with Carrboro police chief Carolyn Hutchison

Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison has announced her retirement. She will retire on or around October 1, 2013 after 29 hers of outstanding service to Carrboro. She is NC's first openly gay police chief.
Buy Photos Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison has announced her retirement. She will retire on or around October 1, 2013 after 29 hers of outstanding service to Carrboro. She is NC's first openly gay police chief.

Longtime Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison will step down in October after 29 years of service on the force.

Hutchison spoke with staff writer Julia Craven about her experiences as the first openly gay police chief in the state and how the department has grown under her tenure.

Daily Tar Heel: What are some things that make you proudest about your tenure as police chief?

Carolyn Hutchison: I would say first and foremost would be the relationships that I’ve formed with the officers of the Carrboro Police Department. Then would be the improvements that all of us have made through the years in terms of our professionalism and our expertise and service to the public. … The Carrboro Police Department has always been a learning environment.

DTH: You said in a letter to Carrboro Town Manager David Andrews that the day you joined the force was one of the luckiest days of your life. Why is that?

CH: Because (former Carrboro Police) Chief Herje listened to me describe my desire to be a police officer. He decided to give me a chance and that was a remarkable experience for me. I spent three years trying to be hired elsewhere and was not hired. So I was pretty depressed about that, so when Chief Herje gave me the opportunity, I was extremely grateful. I never knew that I would spend 29 years in the profession. … What Chief Herje did was help me make a dream come true. And if you don’t know already, you will learn in your life that people who do that for you, you’ll never forget.

DTH: How has the department changed under your tenure as police chief?

CH: Well, I would like to think that I’ve helped individual officers achieve their true potential. … I’ve always recognized, I don’t know everything about everything and I’ve got officers at every rank in this department with skills that surpass my own. So, I recognize their expertise and give them the opportunity to share it.

DTH: You were the state’s first openly gay police chief — how has this affected your experiences as a police officer and as a chief?

CH: When I started in 1984, I was afraid to let people know that I’m gay. That was the world that we lived in. I guess the biggest change in general is that I no longer have to be afraid that people will find out about that part of my life — I’ve never made my sexual orientation a primary focus of my work. Or I’ve not tried to do that. Other people have tried to get me to do that; that’s never been my goal. My goal is just to be Carolyn Hutchison, who does very good work as a police officer. That was my goal.

DTH: And, on a lighter note, what are your retirement plans?

CH: I need to figure out what I want to be when I grow up… For lack of a better word, we call it retirement when people have served their time and are moving on. But in another way, it is a graduation. I will work again. I don’t know exactly what sort of work I’ll do, but I intend to do nothing for a few months. I haven’t done nothing for a long time, and it will be fun for my kids to see me not being police chief.

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