One thing noticeable about Statesville Police Chief David Addison is the power of his voice. It is not an overbearing, booming voice; rather it’s carried by a smooth and understanding confidence.
And understanding seems to be Addison’s trademark.
He has defined himself by pursing degrees in engineering, technology and passing the North Carolina bar exam in 2016.
Earlier this month he marked his third month in office as Statesville’s new Chief of Police. After serving 22 years serving with the Durham Police Department, he said, settling some 120-plus miles west in Statesville doesn’t feel that different.
“You’re looking at people and community,” he remarked. “Now that’s a much larger community (in Durham), but communities want a police department they can trust, that they know is going to serve the community and that people want to be respected. And so do the employees, they want to be respected as well. “
When it was announced in January Addison was going be taking on the mantle of chief, one of the things he said was that he wasn’t going to make any internal policy changes until assessing the department. Now, he said he’s taking time to reexamine polices and make sure they’re up to date; properly serving the department and the community.
Some things being reworked are items like giving staff sergeants more manageable workloads, making promotion policies more transparent, adjusting the disciplinary process to be less embarrassing for officers and centralizing policing in Statesville by district for more accurate updates in real time.
Addison explained he’s trying to make transparency the new normal. He mentioned community groups like Police And Community Together (PACT) have helped the agency progress, but it’s time for the department to act as its own liaison.
“You don’t need to go through anybody to get to the chief,” he said. “We can sit down about what you think needs to change, what we can change and what we can be impacted by.”
But he also said not all moments of good policing makes headlines.
“We do policing well” he said. “I just think that we really don’t advertise some of our successes, and we weren’t giving credit to the officers that were doing a great job. We had officers that when you have the option, and it’s usually the officer’s discretion to help or to charge someone, officers are most commonly going out to help someone.”
Part of this view goes back to police acting as more than just a pair of handcuffs. Addison said trust is created by being present in casual, non-confrontational ways.
“If the only time you walk into a community is to enforce a law, and you never go in to check on the community and you don’t have a vested interest there, then you come in as the enemy and you’re perceived as the enemy,” he remarked.
But the perception of police isn’t the only thing he’s concerned with. With the recent loss of Mooresville K-9 Officer Jordan Sheldon, there’s some soul -searching at SPD.
Addison commented the traffic stop and the domestic violence call are two of the most dangerous things an officer can respond to, no matter their level of training.
“The unfortunate loss of the Mooresville officer has definitely left thoughts in people’s minds,” he said. “They’re questioning whether they should do this or not, and I understand and I respect those decisions when they’re made, but I also know that we have to serve this community and we need people that are willing to serve.”
He also insisted one thing SPD prides itself on is making the safety of its officers a top priority.
And in this time of healing for some police, Addison recognizes he is leading a fresh take not only for how the SPD operates, but how it interacts.
“I want to the relationship with the community to be a nice symbiotic relationship where when they need us we’re there, but even we they don’t need us we can come over and sit down on the front porch and have a conversation,” he said.