Bobby Kimbrough’s 30 years in law enforcement has included positions as a Winston-Salem police officer, a North Carolina probation officer, and a senior special agent with the U.S. Department of Justice — and all of this has led to his current assignment: Forsyth County Sheriff.
He’s the first African-American to serve in the role, and wants to continue improving the relationship between his department and the community. His strategy includes strengthening these relationships and advancing the work that’s already been done by his staff.
Kimbrough’s passion is working with at-risk youth. In addition to raising his seven sons, he’s driven to reduce the number of young men and boys entering the criminal justice system.
But even a successful, accomplished professional at the top of their game struggles to do it all. Kimbrough took some time to talk about his professional and personal aspirations for the coming year.
1. What are some new initiatives in the works for 2020?
“One of the things we want to increase is our joint task force comprised of Winston-Salem police, Kernersville police, and multiple federal agencies. There will be 50 or more law enforcement professionals from various agencies working together to target violent crimes, drugs, and gangs.
“Another initiative is our state-of-the-art Real Time Intelligence Center [RTIC]. We will be the first sheriff’s office in the state to have one. We intend to utilize up-to-date and state-of-the-art technology to better investigate and solve crimes.
“[Lastly], we will be unveiling a motorcycle unit to cover traffic enforcement on the highways and interstate roadways. Just as the highways have expanded their capabilities, we must expand our capabilities to enforce traffic laws.”
2. What are your personal and professional goals for 2020, and how do you plan to reach them?
“My personal goal is to continue to grow as an individual. I need to make exercising and being health-conscious a priority. My professional goal is to continue with my doctoral program in organizational leadership; I have about 18 months left.
“I basically spend 10 to 12 hours a day at the sheriff’s office. I’m working to incorporate an exercise program by bringing fitness programs here for all employees. That will ultimately encourage me to be more conscious about my health by making it both more accessible and a social bonding experience with other team members.”
3. How has your transition to Forsyth County Sheriff been different from your previous roles in law enforcement?
“This has been, of course, the most difficult transition, not in terms of work but in terms of mindset. I say that because in previous roles, my concern was to focus on a specific outcome as it relates to cases and case management. As the sheriff, I have approximately 600 team members. Plus, I’m focused on the safety of the entire county; about 376,000 citizens. On top of that, there is public opinion, political opinions, and everyday concerns.
“But the most rewarding of all the jobs I’ve had without question is the sheriff’s office. I answer to the people, to myself, and to God every day. What is most important is that I must give them the truth as I see it and as I know it. The truth has to be what is right. What is moral, legal, and right.”
4. What does it mean to you that you’re the county’s first African-American sheriff, and what do you think it means to African-American male youths?
“It means that the majority of the people saw me as more than an African-American, as more than a democratic candidate, as more than a republican candidate, they saw me as the best candidate for the job. And what it means to me is gratefulness, grateful they gave me the opportunity.
“What I hope it means to other African-American males is that we are moving into a world that Martin [Luther King Jr.] spoke about — that we should be judged by our content and our character.”
5. Finish this sentence: If I hadn’t gone into law enforcement, I would have ...
“If I hadn’t gone into law enforcement, I would have … been a lawyer … or a motivational speaker.”