Chris Atack, who has been a part of the Carrboro Police Department for over 22 years, is the town's newest police chief.
Atack, who was appointed by Carrboro's Town Manager David Andrews, said his knowledge of the police department and the community made becoming police chief the next logical step.
He's previously held positions in the Carrboro Police Department such as patrol officer, detective, school resource officer, lieutenant over community services and criminal investigations, captain over patrol and captain over administrative services.
Atack, who grew up in Miami, moved to North Carolina in 1992 to study at Guilford College in Greensboro. During his time at Guilford, he found his passion for law enforcement when he became an officer for the school’s student security team.
Upon graduation, Atack said his goals of joining law enforcement became reality when he saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a police position in Carrboro, a town that he had never heard of. He was hired in January of 1999 and has been there ever since.
Carrboro Town Council member Susan Romaine said Atack is someone who has the ability to connect the town and make reforms to improve racial issues.
“(He has) a pulse on racial equity and inclusivity issues,” she said.
Atack said he recognizes the implicit bias that can inevitably come into play amongst those in positions of power.
“As a police officer, specifically, you need to make sure you are making your decisions based upon the reality of the circumstances and not upon a preconceived notion about anyone,” he said.
With this in mind, Atack said an important goal he has for the police force is to build upon the trust of the community.
He said he's made a point in recent years to reach out to local organizations, such as the Refugee Community Partnership, to build a relationship of trust amongst the police force and marginalized communities in Carrboro.
He said he wants people to feel comfortable reaching out and calling the police department.
Atack also said he'd like the police department to focus more on resources, like mental health services, rather than arrests.
“Two negatives don’t make a positive,” Atack said.
He said arrests – unless necessary – should not be used to address underlying issues.
Lieutenant Anthony Westbrook, a colleague and close friend of Atack, said much of the roles and responsibilities of police officers should be assisting in crisis.
"We become the ones you can always call when you can't figure out who else," he said.
Westbrook said he is confident in Atack’s ability to oversee and grow upon the needs of the community and the role that officers play in overseeing them.
Atack said he wants the community to reach out if they need someone, no matter the issue.
“Give us a call," he said. "We really do want to help become part of the solution."
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