The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

August 1, 2013

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Current, former police chiefs bring ‘real world’ to classroom

BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER

TARBORO — Tarboro Police Chief Damon Williams is gearing up to teach a homeland security class in Edgecombe Community College (ECC)’s criminal justice program.

Williams spoke at an open house for the program at ECC Tuesday evening, and expressed his enthusiasm about teaching at the college this fall as an adjunct professor.

“One of the things I bring to the classroom is practical knowledge,” Williams said. “I’m an educator by passion and by spirit, so I’m excited to be back in the classroom.”

Williams holds a Bachelor’s of Science in criminal justice and is working toward earning a Master’s of Business Administration. He was previously in law enforcement education for six years and became a certified police officer in 2005. He was named chief in Taylortown in 2007, moved to Maxton as chief in 2010 and was named chief in Tarboro in May 2012.

Williams said teaching the class fits into his department leadership style of “community policing.” At 34, Williams considers himself a “new generation” police chief.

“It gives me a chance to share some of my philosophies with the students,” said the police chief. “I believe in an ‘out of the box’ way of dealing with society’s problems. My belief is that building that trust and a positive atmosphere helps us with our overall mission of fighting crime.”

The homeland security class taught by Williams is a new offering for students in the criminal justice program, along with cyber crime. Williams said current issues would be frequent topics of discussion in his class.

“It’s going to be very interactive,” he said.

“I think he’ll be a good teacher,” said Lashonda Staton, of Williams. Staton is a 2013 graduate of North Edgecombe High School and is beginning her studies in criminal justice at ECC.

“I want to be a state trooper or sheriff or SBI. I just want to go into a field where I can get promoted,” Staton said. The idea of “getting bad guys off the street” also appeals to Staton. She enjoys the criminal justice class taught by Richard Basile, program chair for the criminal justice department.

“I’ll give you the textbook, I’ll give you the theory, but I’ll give you the real world,” Basile told the students and prospective students at the open house. Basile formerly held the post of chief of police in Ithaca, N.Y.

“My background is in community policing,” he said. “Everybody that teaches here is a practitioner,”

Danny Hayes, retired chief of the Tarboro Police Department, Gerald Pipkin, a retired lieutenant with the Rocky Mount Police Department, and Vivian Brake, warden of Fountain Correctional Center, will bring their knowledge of the criminal justice system to students in their classes, as well.

Basile said between 275 and 300 students are currently enrolled in the criminal justice program at ECC and he would like to increase that number. Those interested in the program can contact Basile at 823-5166, ext. 162 or  basiler@edgecombe.edu.