About 200 people braved the cold, rainy weather Wednesday night to hear from the four finalists vying to be Winston-Salem’s next police chief at a forum held at the Salem Lake Marina.

For nearly two hours, the candidates fielded questions from a community panel on topics such as gun violence, community policing, and recruiting and retaining officers in a department struggling to fill vacancies.

Three of the finalists are assistant chiefs in the department: Manny Gomez, William Penn, Jr., and Wilson Weaver II. Danville Police Chief Scott Booth is seeking to be the first selected for the job from outside of the department since 2008.

Donald Scales, a former Winston-Salem police officer, was among those in attendance and says he supports the internal candidates because they already know the community.

”I think they all presented themselves extremely well, including the chief of Danville, Virginia," he says. "They all had a plan, and they know basically what they want to do and how to do it.”

City officials will pick one of the four candidates to replace former Chief Catrina Thompson, who retired last year. A decision is expected by the end of the month.

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