Edwards the right choice for police chief

Friday’s announcement that Donald Edwards will take the helm as Clinton’s Police chief was welcome news, and a decision we applaud city officials for making.

Edwards, who has served the department for over two decades, will officially take the oath on Aug. 1 at the City Council meeting, but he has assumed the duties in an interim fashion since Jay Tilley retired a few months back. In both his interim capacity and in every job he has held since becoming a Clinton officer, Edwards has served the city well. We’ve no doubt that will continue as he takes the leadership role at the department.

While we understand and agree with the city’s assessment center procedures in its search for a new chief, in Edwards we knew the department already had someone within its ranks who could do the job and do it well. That’s not to say there was anything wrong with any of the other candidates; there likely wasn’t. But any time the opportunity to promote from within presents itself, and a viable local candidate exists, we are in favor of taking that direction.

Edwards was easily one of those viable candidates from day one.

Through the years, the new chief has earned the respect of his fellow officers by working hard, handling situations fairly and always conducting himself in a manner befitting any person in law enforcement. Just as importantly, Edwards has, over the course of his tenure with the Police Department, become an easily recognized and well-liked face among Clinton’s citizenry.

He easily fits in with every community. His gentle tone, warm smile and willingness to roll up his shirtsleeves and help out makes him approachable, no easy feat these days for those who wear the uniform of a law enforcement officer. Yet Edwards seems to have no problem mixing and mingling in any situation.

But as affable as he is, Edwards is also down-to-business when the situation requires it, and he has no problem stepping into the leadership role, ensuring that laws are upheld, fairness is meted out and Clinton is as safe as humanly possible.

Being police chief isn’t an easy assignment. Coupled with the management of the officers and dealing with the public, is the constant challenge of fighting crime, ensuring the department has the best technology its budget can afford, staying current with accreditation, working with the media and ensuring the needs of a diverse citizenry can be met.

We believe Edwards will rise to the challenges, meeting them head-on and ensuring our Police Department remains a law enforcement agency that can be respected and liked.

His credentials speak to his ability: Edwards began as a police officer in 1993, and progressed his way through the ranks, reaching the level of captain in 2012. In addition to his years of experience, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from Mount Olive College and has successfully completed numerous law enforcement-related certification and education courses, including the North Carolina Administrative Officers Management Program.

We congratulate our new chief, welcome him into a position he has already shown he can handle and thank him in advance for doing everything within his power to continue to make Clinton a safe place to live and work.