10 to Watch: Police Chief Jerry Stokes

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 2, 2017

SALISBURY — Nearly six months ago Jerry Stokes was sworn in as the city of Salisbury’s police chief at a time when the city was dealing with a number of unsolved murders, broken relations with the black community and growing personnel shortages.

Stokes has come in and begun working on a restructuring plan that would allow more “community-based, problem-oriented policing strategies.” He has ideas that he believes will help build community trust, but many of his plans have not yet been able to come to fruition because of a large number of vacancies within the department.

He’s had to make some tough decisions, particularly in staffing changes as well as personnel and training.

Stokes said one of his top priorities is recruiting new officers. Even before Stokes’ arrival, the police department had lost officers to bigger agencies, officer misconduct and some through retirement. The department currently has 16 vacancies.

Stokes has been in law enforcement over 30 years and is an advocate of partnering with the community in an effort to create change.

He has said his goal isn’t just to have an officer walk a beat, but to develop a relationship with the community.

He has a degree in criminal justice from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and a graduate certificate in local government management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.

He also has a master’s degree in public administration from Old Dominion University.

— Shavonne Walker




Name: Jerry Stokes

Age: 54

Address: Salisbury
Job: Salisbury police chief
Where born: Lynchburg, Va.
Favorite book: “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell.
Who would play you in a movie: Gene Wilder or Mel Brooks
What would you want for your last meal: Something Italian with shrimp and cheese
Biggest challenge for year ahead: “Our staffing. We are at 16 vacancies.” He’s not optimistic the department will recover right away. “My goal is 90 percent. It will take more than a year.”
Biggest hope for 2017: Trying to be optimistic about staffing, but the struggle is that there are people who live in Charlotte and Concord who commute. He said he wants people who will have ties to the local community and who will be better for the department in the long run.
Who you’ll be watching in 2017: Donald Trump. To see what he will do without conflict and because he’s an outsider (politically).
Reaction to being named as one to watch: Just surprised.