After 25 years of service, Jabe Hunter, a Chapel Hill Police Department assistant chief, announced his retirement on Oct. 3.
“I realize I’m changing into a new chapter of my life, but I’m not giving up completely on everything,” Hunter said.
He said he started off as a police information specialist at CHPD while he went through the admissions process to become a police officer. After he joined the force, he served in a variety of positions including an investigator, a supervisor of the narcotics unit and a patrol supervisor, according to Police Chief Chris Blue.
Blue is also planning to retire at the end of this year. He said he will allow his successor to choose the person to fill Hunter’s position.
“It’s a lot of changeover, but there’s plenty of good folks there that are going to continue the work,” Hunter said. “I look forward to watching it unfold from the outside.”
In 2013, Hunter was promoted to assistant chief and served alongside Blue.
“Hunter was a very forward-thinking police leader,” Blue said. “Many of the reforms that we have embraced in our department have been supported by or led by (Assistant) Chief Hunter.”
Hunter joined the Board of Directors for EMPOWERment, Inc. in 2016, according to Executive Director Delores Bailey. According to their website, EMPOWERment, Inc. aims to help individuals and the Chapel Hill community through affordable housing and grassroots economic development. Hunter first joined as a member before attaining various positions on the board, Bailey said.
According to Bailey, when she joined the corporation in 2002, the community’s relationship with the police department had room for improvement. Since then, they have tried to join together by learning about each other.
“Having someone from the police department on our board has always been intentional and has always been special,” Bailey said.
Hunter was also a member of the Community Policing Advising Committee for around seven years, Shiala Baldwin, the committee's co-chairperson, said. According to their website, the committee acts as a liaison between the Chapel Hill community and the police department.
Within the process, Baldwin said Hunter acted as a communicator. She noted Hunter's ability to position himself as a civilian, advocate, officer and leader all at once.
“That is very difficult to find,” Baldwin said. “Not just in an officer, but in a human.”
Despite his retirement, Hunter remains involved in the advising committee, especially with different projects he has started, Baldwin said. One of them, Fathers on the Move, is an organization that helps incarcerated men rebuild their lives outside of the criminal justice system.
Baldwin said he talked to men in and out of prisons and spoke at events like graduations and community partnership meetings.
Nikkima Santos, another member of the Community Policing Advising Committee, said Hunter is very passionate about community and reformation.
She added that Hunter played a key role in changing her perspective of law enforcement. She said they came to know him as a sincere, genuine and compassionate leader.
“Jabe is absolutely one of those people who cares about community and cares about people," Bailey said. "You really get the sense of that if you spend any amount of time with him. I have been fortunate enough to spend six years with him.”
Hunter said he plans to move forward with both EMPOWERment, Inc. and Fathers on the Move. He added he also would like to work again, but possibly in the private sector.
Celisa Lehew, another assistant chief of police at the CHPD, will take his place on the Community Policing Advisory Committee.
“I look forward to working with her,” Baldwin said, “I feel like we will do the town proud, and I also feel like Jabe left us with a great foundation.”
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