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Retiring police chief stands by crime stats

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Retiring Rocky Mount Police Chief James Moore said he stands by his controversial crime statistics reporting methods, has been planning his departure for a year and is proud to have instituted several firsts during his five-year tenure.

“I categorically, undeniably stand by the honesty and professionalism of the Rocky Mount Police Department staff in its crime statistics reporting methodology,” said Moore who is set to retire at the end of the year.

Several law enforcement officials have questioned Moore's approach to how crimes are reported to state and federal agencies. In response to the Telegram’s investigative reporting into the matter this summer, Mayor David Combs announced he was asking the FBI to review the department's reporting methodology.

City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney said last week the FBI probe wouldn't be moving forward, but didn't explain the reason why.

“The FBI declined to complete an audit of the reporting methodology and findings in Chief Moore’s report; however, it has been determined that the SBI guidelines that the RMPD use for crime statistics reporting purposes, are also used by other reporting agencies in the state,” Small-Toney said.

When asked who made such a determination, the city's only response was that crime statistics reporting is voluntary.

Moore, 55, said he's been getting ready to step down for some time.

“I have been financially preparing for retirement for over two decades,” Moore said. “I have been contemplating ending my journey at the Rocky Mount Police Department since September 2016 due to God's grace and blessing upon my family.”

Moore said he provided his letter of retirement to Small-Toney on Nov. 1. The retirement wasn't made public until last week.

“Chief Moore will not participate in the search for the new chief of police,” Small-Toney said.

Moore on two occasions didn't answer whether he would seek employment at another law enforcement agency. He did say he would continue to serve as the public safety representative on the newly established Governor's Commission on Access to a Sound Basic Education.

Moore's appointment was announced the day after his retirement was made public.

The commission will focus on the critical importance of all children receiving a quality public education, said Ford Porter, a spokesman for Gov. Roy Cooper.

The commission is set to hold its first meeting Nov. 30 in Raleigh.

Moore said he's most proud of spearheading the collaboration between the Rocky Mount Police Department and Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools to create the School Resource Officer Memorandum of Understanding, which clarifies the roles and responsibilities of police while establishing guidelines for handling disciplinary issues and violations of the law that are committed on the school campus.

“We were one of the first law enforcement agencies in the state that provide School Resource Officers to a local school system to enter into such an agreement,” Moore said.

Among other firsts initiated by Moore include training to help officers recognize their biases, learn de-escalation tactics and being fair when resolving community-based disputes.

Moore said he's thankful the department was able to achieve historic crime reductions in Rocky Mount. In 2016, the city of Rocky Mount experienced the lowest number of reported major crime incidents in 39 years; reported the lowest violent crime incidents since 1989; and reported the lowest property crime incidents in the last 40 years.

“During my tenure, 2012-2016, the crime rate declined for five consecutive years, the longest continuous drop on record, and it is at the lowest level since 1977,” Moore said.

So far this year, there have been 13 homicides in Rocky Mount, eight of which remain unsolved.

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