GREENSBORO – Police Chief Wayne Scott is leaving the Greensboro Police Department after 30 years.
Scott, 49, announced his Jan. 31 retirement in a news conference Friday morning.
“I have mixed emotions,” Scott said. “Most are very positive, to know that I’ve reached this point in my career.”
Scott became chief in 2015 but had served on the force since joining in 1991 at 20 years old.
“I have spent the majority of my life as a Greensboro police officer,” Scott said. “And that is what I’m most proud of. Not being chief, not ascending through the ranks, but being a police officer and serving our community.”
But Scott said now is his time to focus on family.
“Being the police chief in the city of Greensboro is a huge honor, but it also takes about 70 to 80 hours a week of my time,” Scott said. “I live and die with a cell phone in my hand.”
Scott said he doesn't anticipate going far from public service, but he doesn't yet know in what capacity.
City Councilwoman Goldie Wells said Scott deserves this break.
“I appreciate all he’s done for the city and congratulate him on his retirement,” Wells said.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan echoed Wells’ sentiment.
“Certainly, we appreciate all the good work he has done over the last couple of years, and I wish him well in his retirement,” Vaughan said.
Scott said he agreed to stay through January as the city looks for his successor.
“Greensboro is just a great place to live,” Scott said. “I think it will get a lot of attention both locally and nationally.”
Greensboro Assistant City Manager Nathaniel “Trey” Davis said city staff are working to hire an executive search committee to find Scott’s replacement.
At least seven meetings will be held throughout the city, including one in each of the five city council districts, to get feedback from residents, he said.
That community input was lacking in Scott’s selection as chief, critics said when he replaced Ken Miller, who left to become the police chief in Greenville, S.C.
Critics also contended that not only did Scott have an advantage in the job selection process by being on the police force, it also meant he was an insider in a department that was facing allegations of racism at the time.
“We do know that this is a very important decision for our city and for our community,” Davis said. “As we narrow this down — as we look at the profile of the police chief — we want to let you know we’re confident that will be able to select a dynamic and a talented individual who will lead this agency and this city and serve you as a community.”
Vaughan said she's looking for a proven track record of policing in the next chief.
"I can't think of any more difficult job there is," Vaughan said. "Policing, in general, is a very difficult job."
Scott focused his attention Friday on his successes.
He included on that list the creation of the office of community engagement, the development of a body-camera program, successful recruitment of new officers and creating community partnerships.
But he said he became chief at one of the country's most contentious times.
Scott was questioned about whether recent controversies at the department, including the in-custody death of Marcus Smith, led to his retirement.
No, it was just time, he said.
Scott’s retirement has been long anticipated since he reached eligibility earlier this year.
In a video posted on Vimeo Thursday night, Scott told his staff that he was putting rumors about his retirement to rest by announcing an official date.
"During the time between August and January things will remain the same," Scott said in the video. "I'll still be the chief. You'll still be part of the organization and in whatever your role is we'll still be doing what we do day-to-day."