William Penn Jr. has been named the new Winston-Salem police chief, city officials announced Monday.

Penn’s appointment is effective immediately. He’s been with the department for 25 years, rising to the top position after serving as an assistant chief.

During a community forum last week featuring the four finalists for the job, Penn said his initiatives will include an approach focusing on prevention, intervention and apprehension. 

“We’ve got to talk about what’s driving crime," he says. "We gotta talk about poverty, we gotta talk about lack of access, we gotta talk about lack of connectivity. We have to talk about that because that's what's driving the crime.”

In a release, Penn says it’s important that the next chief inspires confidence in the community and that the department is a place where dedicated officers can build a career.

He also condemned the case of Tyre Nichols, who died after he was beaten by a group of Memphis police. The incident was captured on video and five officers have been criminally charged in connection.

Penn says the officers’ actions do not represent the values of the Winston-Salem department, and that the community must work together to stop violence.

Penn succeeds former chief Catrina Thompson, who resigned last year.


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