City crime in North Carolina is rising at an alarming rate according to nation-wide statistics. Much of its root causes can be directly linked to the non-prosecution of serious crimes, cultural change, and a disrespect for law.
The nearby city of Reidsville has been experiencing a dangerous spike in their crime rate, especially violent crime.
According to CrimeGrade.org, Reidsville rates a C- in frequency of violent crime and a D+ in property crime. That is not so good.
Luckily, help is on the way as the city just hired a new police chief, Ray Gibson, who took the wheel on September 14, 2021.
If the name sounds familiar, it should: Robert Ray Gibson was raised right here in Caswell County and attended Bartlett Yancey High School. He’s a local boy!
“I grew up in Blanch, NC. My father, Larry Gibson, is deceased, but my mom, Phyllis, still lives in Blanch. I’ve got a younger brother, Troy Gibson, who lives across the street from her. My older brother, Tony Gibson, retired from the highway patrol, out of Raleigh, as a Lieutenant in 2018. Yes, I went to Bartlett Yancey and graduated in 1987,” he explains. “I didn’t play sports, but I was always outdoors and loved to hunt. I worked in the tobacco fields when I was small, but most summers I worked for my uncles, who had a drywall company. I spent most of those days hanging and finishing sheetrock and hauling out scraps. That’s hard work and is terrible in this humidity,” laughed the well-spoken, youthful grandfather.
Chief Ray is married to his wife, Stacie, and they have three grown children: Brittany, Hunter, and Landon plus two grandchildren. They have been living in Rockingham County for over 20 years.
The chief brings plenty of law enforcement experience to his new position: 30 years as a North Carolina Highway Patrol officer and two years, recently, on the force in Reidsville. Those 32 hard-earned years provide the street savvy one can only learn working the streets. Book-wise, he also holds a B.A. degree in Business Management from North Carolina State.
“In Dec. 2020, I was promoted to Lieutenant here in town. When the position as chief came open, I applied for it with 14 others. They whittled it down to five, then they whittled it down to three, and it was between me and two out-pf-state officers. I think they picked me because I’ve lived here for 20 years and had retired from the Highway Patrol (stationed at Rockingham County and Guilford County). I think of my experience there and my hometown connections with other chiefs, sheriffs and the judges made the difference.”
Chief Gibson thinks police in the South, especially there in Rockingham County and Reidsville still have the respect of the community. Despite the protests and rallies around the country, there remains a tremendous amount of support for police in the area.
“We try and get out in the community. This summer we had what we called, ‘Water Wednesdays,’ where we went to different areas and parks in the city and opened the fire hydrants, letting the kids play in the water. We gave out free pops, too, and talked to the kids to try to build up a relationship with them. It works,” adds the Chief.
Gibson thinks that the increase in crime has a lot to do with the general culture and “kids just don’t work like everyone did several generations ago.” His father, Larry (who worked at Goodyear) was very work driven and taught all his sons “how to work” and how it built character.
“Sometimes I think that’s what lacks in families now, it’s easier to play video games or do nothing. This city fortunately has a teen center where we try and keeps teens engaged in the summer and keep them out of trouble. That’s our department’s goal and as Chief of Police, that’s one of my goals. I want to keep teens out of trouble so that when they get up into high school, get out of high school, they can get a good job and be productive.”
On Leadership and Technology: “We’re all leaders here. I’m chief over everybody, but I try to instill into my officers that everybody’s a leader. If we’re out there dealing with the public, we must be respectful and professional. As far as technology, all of us have body cameras, we have in-car cameras, and every vehicle has a mobile data computer in it. One of my goals is to keep up with technology. I want to work smarter and not harder because overall it’s such a demanding job.”
The stated mission on the Reidsville Police Department website is “Making A Difference.” That is exactly the goal and direction Chief Ray Gibson has for the 14,000 people in the city he protects and serves. Good luck, Chief!