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John Thompson named new Greensboro police chief

Assistant Chief John Thompson has worked in various divisions with the Greensboro Police Department for 19 years.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Greensboro City Manager Taiwo Jaiyeoba announced Assistant Chief John Thompson as new police chief.

Thompson, a native of Cobb, CA, started his law enforcement career as a member of the Asheboro Police Department in 1988 and joined the Greensboro Police Department in 2003. 

He has served in several roles ranging from Resource Management Division to Vice/Narcotics Division. He previously served as the Bureau Commander of the Patrol Division.

“It is truly an honor to be selected to lead such a nationally accredited agency with an exceptional team of dedicated officers and employees,” said Chief Thompson.

Thompson has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Justice Policy Studies Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Guilford College. He also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Pfeiffer University. 

“The community will appreciate how John applies a people-centered approach to law enforcement. His leadership qualities align with many of the traits the community shared in public forums,” said Assistant City Manager Nathanael Davis.

Chief Thompson succeeds Brian James, and will assume his duties on December 16, 2022.

WFMY News 2 had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with newly-appointed Chief Thompson about his career and the issues facing Greensboro. 

Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

Thompson:  “I began law enforcement in 1998. I started with the aspera police department as a brand new Officer. I spent five years with them, I was a patrol officer at a detective in the Asheboro police department. I always had my sights on a larger agency, and Greensboro was the agency in the state of North Carolina, at that time. In 2003, I applied and was fortunate enough to be hired here. I am married, I have seven-year-old, twins, a boy, and a girl at home and if we are going to be anywhere, it’s going to be in Greensboro. Greensboro is where I work, it’s where I live and it’s what I know and so I’m excited to be a part of Greensboro, and again to lead the police department and really have an impact of the community.“

You're going to have to take your experience and build upon it in this position. Share how you plan to do that. 

Thompson: "Every step in my career has helped prepare me to lead the organization. I do think a lot of the positions I’ve taken, the opportunities provided to me, have really helped prepare me for this role. My experience with resource management, that’s kind of the business side, HR, recruitment and budget side of a police department, which is critical if you’re going to be a leader to understand this aspect of it. I was fortunate enough to really be exposed to a lot of different opportunities, and then take advantage of learning as much as I could when I hold those roles.”

Combating violent crime:

Thompson: "I’ve kind of, probably more recently in the last for five or six years, really kind of looked at adapting, innovative ways to address things. Law enforcement sometimes is looked at as we are still trying to do the same thing that we were trying to do 10, 12, 15 years ago to address violent crime. It’s just not going to work. We have to think differently, we have to be innovative, we have to change how we do and what we do if we hope to be effective.The individuals that live in the neighborhood that are experiencing issues with violent crime, they know how they want to address that and we need to be there to help them.”

Hiring and retaining officers:

Thompson: “I came to Greensboro because it was at that time considered to be the premier agency in the state. You knew anywhere across the state when you refer to the Greensboro Police department that that was it, that was where you wanted to be. There’s a number of things we need to do. I think internally to really look at the culture of our organization because that’s what brought me here. I couldn’t tell you how much money I was making in Asheboro. I’m not sure how much money I made coming to Greensboro. I just knew I wanted to be a police officer, and I wanted to be a part of a great organization. I think we need to capitalize on that and it kind of falls in line with our city manager, and his direction of making the city of Greensboro and employer of choice. We need to adopt it as a police department. “

Building trust in the community:

Thompson: “I think we’ve potentially seen the largest shift and Police culture and expectations in 2020 with the murder of George Floyd and the expectations to community has for the police department. Really, as an organization, we need to be open and understand what the community expectation is of our organization. We have got to be willing to hear the good and the bad with that. What does a community want from us? What they expect from us? How do we achieve that? We are really looking at making a concerted effort to really provide the right resource to the right request. The Greensboro Police department was the first agency in the state to have a true mental health co-responder model. There are some different models out there were officers follow up on mental health calls, or clinicians, follow up, but we actually have clinicians partner with our police officers who are responding to calls in the community."

What are some standards you have set for yourself as you enter this new role?

Thompson: “I kind of measure myself against the success of the organization and the impact it has on the community. So I do have a vision for our police department. It’s kind of a trick of a vision that we have had in place. Our vision that was established back under chief Miller when he was here was to be a national model of exceptional policing through a Through effective community partnerships, selfless, public service, and a commitment to excellence. I still think that our vision is to be a national model for exceptional policing. I think our avenues to get there are a little bit different and so for me it’s through innovation, it’s through evidence based practice and obviously there’s effective community partnerships."

When you take over this position, what is your message to the citizens of Greensboro? 

Thompson "We are a phenomenal police department. We are a great organization, and as I had mentioned before, we have a lot of really good things happening in terms of some grant opportunities, we’ve had some programming that we are going to establish, things that I think are really going to be game changers not just in Greensboro, but we will be a model that other agencies look at and say 'hey, we need to go to Greensboro and find out how they’re doing that.' We are probably going to be a little more transparent than historically we’ve been with the police department. That creates some challenges and barriers to overcome with that transparency. I think for me it’s just be ready because as an organization, we are going to ask you to engage and expect you to engage with us."


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