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YOUNGSVILLE — After town residents had a chance to meet and ask questions of the two finalists for the Youngsville Police Chief position, town officials said a hire could be made by the end of the month.
Capt. Joseph Kimball, who is serving as the department's interim chief since former chief Daren Kirts retired in June, is one of the finalists. The other is Lt. Greg Whitley, a Knightdale Police Department officer who lives near Youngsville.
At a special board of commissioners meeting Sept. 26, both candidates met with the commissioners and citizens. Both were also asked to give presentations on community policing, tackling speeding and new initiatives they'd like to bring to the Youngsville Police Department if hired.
Town Administrator Phil Cordeiro said the original pool of applicants numbered about 60. He said a final announcement should be made in the coming weeks.
Living in New Jersey, Kimball ran health clubs. He said after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, he decided he wanted to go into policing. He joined the Youngsville Police Department in 2010, a year after graduating from basic law enforcement training.
Kimball said he has completed some college.
Responding to questions from citizens, Kimball said he wants to treat officers well so they are encouraged to make careers in Youngsville like he has, instead of leaving for other departments.
"I want these guys to be here 10 years later like me," Kimball said, noting that many of the officers currently on the force he personally hired. "I want you to be able to see them on the street. I want to see that happen. We need to make changes internally to make that happen."
In his presentations, Kimball said he preferred portable speed radars to speed bumps to control speeding in town. The radars can collect data, which could inform when and where officers should be stationed for enforcement of traffic laws.
Kimball also committed to enhancing the department's involvement with community events including Coffee With a Cop, blood drives, canned food drives, trick-or-treat nights and reading to kids at day cares. He said these events build trust with citizens, which translates into better law enforcement.
"As chief I'll continue to promote these same types of forums," Kimball said. "Open forums are essential for our collective success."
The new initiative he proposed was to secure grants to bring a K-9 officer into the police department. He said if the K-9 locates illegal drugs, the department could receive drug asset forfeiture funds from the federal government.
Whitley said he began working as an officer with the Smithfield Police Department 19 years ago before moving to the Knightdale Police Department. He has worked in patrol, investigations and narcotics, he said.
He has an associate degree in wildlife management and is working toward a degree in criminal justice from Western Carolina University.
Calling himself a country boy, Whitley said he sees an opportunity to grow with Youngsville if hired as its new chief.
"I like the challenge of the growth of the town, to be involved in the prospect of this town growing," Kimball said. "To be honest with you, Knightdale is a little too big for me. ... Youngsville really suits me."
To combat speeding, Whitley said he would launch an educational campaign to make sure people are aware of the law. After the educational period, he said he would have a no-tolerance policy for violators.
"At the end of the day, I believe we ultimately want compliance, whether that is done through public information or through compliance," Whitley said.
On community policing, Whitley said he wants to remove any perceived separation between officers and citizens. His proposed initiative was to explore the feasibility of a citizen's academy, a program where residents could attend hands-on classes to learn how the police department works.
Also in September, the Youngsville Board of Commissioners approved new branding that will be used to identify the town.
The branding includes a new logo and the tagline "Youngsville: Home begins with you." It was designed by Arnett Muldrow & Associates in Greenville.
The commissioners voted to approve the new branding Sept. 12.
"We are intensely proud of our agrarian heritage, and we strive to preserve and remember our humble roots, even as the growth of the metro comes closer each day," reads in part the town's new brand statement.
The new design includes drafts of new wayfinding signage the town could install to identify landmarks.