Improving diversity in the police department has long been a priority for the city of Laurinburg, and officials say an important step in that ongoing effort was taken this week with the announcement of four new hires.
“With two of the new hires being African Americans and one being a (female), this latest group of hires adds to the diversity of the force,” said Amy Martin, city human resources director.
Charles Gunnings, Tod Bonello, Victoria Walsh and Denetric Williams were each hired over the past month to fill vacancies at the Laurinburg Police Department.
“All four were very strong hires,” Martin said.
Williams joined the Laurinburg Police Department patrol division last week from the Sampson County Sheriff’s Department. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Williams studied criminal justice at Fayetteville Technical Community College.
Set to join the police department in May, Charles Gunnings will join Bonello in attending basic law enforcement training upon his arrival in Laurinburg. Gunnings studied at Elizabeth City State University where he was a football standout. Upon graduation, Gunnings pursued a career in professional football, playing for the Cape Fear Nighthawks and trying out twice with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
“I’m glad we got him instead,” said Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker of Gunnings.
Parker introduced each of the new officers at this week’s meeting of the Laurinburg City Council.
“(The introductions) are kind of a new tradition where we bring new officers to a council meeting to introduce them to the public and welcome them,” Parker said.
According to Parker, Bonello will come to Laurinburg in May following “a stellar military career with the United States Air Force where he engaged in counter terrorism.” Bonello studied at Fayetteville State University.
Parker said that he was pleased to introduce Walsh because “we don’t get many ladies, and it’s good (to have another one join the police).”
Walsh will eventually take over for the Laurinburg Police Department’s retiring crime scene investigator.
Until then she will work as a detective alongside the city’s current crime scene investigation staff.
Prior to agreeing to work in Laurinburg, Walsh worked in crime scene investigation in New Hanover county. Currently in pursuit of a master’s degree, Walsh received her undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
“I’m proud to welcome (the new employees) to the city of Laurinburg,” Parker said. “We certainly are glad to have these new officers. Our human resources director has done a good job recruiting.”
Martin said that interim Police Chief Kimothy Monroe played an important role in coordinating the recruitment of the latest members of the police department.
“Chief Monroe helped me identify (websites) where we can find talent and he has taken an active role in the recruitment process. I have sourced the candidates and Chief Monroe has done a majority of the legwork in hiring them.
“I just bring the applicant to the Chief Monroe’s attention,” Martin said.