Carrboro has a new top cop in town. 

Chris Atack, a 22-year presence at the Carrboro Police Department, will become the town’s new police chief on February 15. Town Manager David Andrews announced the hiring on Thursday.

“We have chosen a leader who will continue to make positive progress toward community policing, equal justice, and continuous improvement going forward,” Andrews said in a press release. Atack was reportedly chosen out of 36 applicants for the job.

Atack replaces Walter Horton, who announced his retirement from the police force in January after 27 years of working at the department and serving as chief for more than seven years. 

“The year 2020 was a challenge for a number of reasons and laid bare many of the persistent inequities in our country,” Atack said in a press release. “Our department has unique opportunities to address, respond, and adapt to these realities as we focus on community service, transparency, and solution-driven thinking.”

Carrboro police have worked with the town council to address some of these inequities in recent months as police brutality stayed at the front of public conscience. In June, Carrboro Town Council voted to ban chokeholds in the wake of George Floyd’s death, although the department already had de-escalation policies in place. They also banned rubber bullets and chemical agents from being used on protesters, things that their neighbors in Raleigh were using at the time.

Prior to that, the department worked with other municipal departments to keep K-9 units out of local schools, and ended their participation with the Federal Asset Forfeiture Program, a group where police get to keep part of the money made off sales of seized property.

Atack previously worked as a Student Resource Officer at McDougle Middle School and as the office’s spokesperson. Apparently, he takes nice photos of birds in his free time, based on posts from his supposed Facebook account to “Carolina Bird Photo Sharing Group.”

Carrboro’s police department is relatively small—it has three divisions and 40 employees between officers and staff members. By comparison, neighboring Chapel Hill has 103 officers. 

This is a developing story.

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