GREENSBORO, N.C. — Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott has known it was coming for a long time, but his retirement announcement in August took many by surprise.
"I’ve been eligible for retirement since February of this year," he stated, adding the timing was just right. "I was weighing out what’s best for my family, what’s best for me moving forward."
January 31st will be Chief Scott's last day on the job. He's held the title of Chief since 2015, but has been with the department since 1991. So this was not an easy decision.
"I spoke with city manager way and we came up with the idea that this may be good timing and gives the City the opportunity to find a new Chief," Scott said. "I can be here, I can run the department and there will be no interim and hopefully we’ll have some overlap so we can transition to a new leader smoothly."
Now nearing the end of his career, he reflected on the beginning. A cold case from the 90's really stuck with him.
"I had a young lady, a victim of a sexual assault we were not able to get the perpetrator in that time," he said.
But then a crack in the case: an out of state DNA hit decades later.
"I was able to be the one to see him at the jail and say 'remember me?' From 20 years earlier," Scott said.
He was able to give closure to the young victim.
"I had a conversation with the young lady, who was no longer a 13-year-old, she's in her 30's, and tell her 'we finally got him.'
Police victories come in all shapes and sizes.
Chief Scott says some of the departments near-misses qualify.
The case of Steve Spencer stands out. Spencer is accused of bringing a gun into Smith High School in 2018, with every intention of killing.
"He had the backpack full of ammunition and a hit-list, but we were able, as a community, to avoid that."
More recently, abducted 3-year-old Ahlora Lindiment was found safe, and unharmed. Something that's statistically very rare after 24 hours taken.
"Words can't really say how excited I was."
But with the good, comes the grim.
"We lost a young man about a year ago."
Officer Jared Franks died in the line of duty in 2018.
"We cried together, and we moved through that event but I don't think you ever get over it."
Because Scott says everyone at GPD is family.
"I know that if I'm having an off day, somebody here is going to go 'it's going to be OK,' I'm going to miss that day-to-day interaction."
WFMY News 2's Jess Winters presented some crime statistics to Chief Scott.
In 2017 Greensboro had a record high year for criminal homicides: 44.
There were 37 criminal homicides in 2018
So far in 2019? There have been 36. The year isn't over yet.
"We’re up 9 percent over last year, but still behind 2017’s numbers," Scott emphasized. "When we look at crime violent crime, we try to look at a 5 year norm and we’re still within that range."
But Scott says he doesn't say that lightly.
"Any one victim is a victim too many, I guarantee you that but it is an issue we’re facing: the prolific use of guns and amount of gun violence we’re seeing."
Chief Scott says his department is addressing gun violence 'aggressively.' He says he's confident he's leaving his department in a good place.
'What is next for you Chief Scott?' WFMY News 2's Jess Winters asked.
"I don’t know yet," Scott responded. "I’ve had a lot of people ask and it's an important question, I’ve had folks make suggestions."
He says he'll still be a public servant in some capacity in the future.
"I can tell you I’ve spent over half my life in public service and I don’t see that changing. I’m going to do something that makes a difference in our community."
But first: vacation, and relaxation.
"I want to go fishing again, I haven’t been fishing in years true story," said Scott. "I’ve planned fishing trips over the last couple years and it never seems to happen."
After January 31st, it will.