Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson is working to stay ahead of the curve in community relations between his officers and local residents, whether they are Edgecombe County residents or visitors.

“With recent events and unrest in our nation, my top priorities as sheriff of Edgecombe County is the safety of my deputies and serving and protecting the citizens of this county through our core values of respect, integrity and professionalism,” Atkinson wrote on the agency’s Facebook page. “As an outcome of such, we would like to take time out to reassure our citizens by sharing some common practices that are implemented in our office. They are designed to ensure fairness and transparency through our service.”

Atkinson listed eight specific items:

  • Deputies receive and will continue to receive Implicit Bias Policing Training.
  • Deputies have been outfitted with modern Axon body cameras to record encounters with the public, the cameras automatically activate when the taser or firearm is unholstered, eradicating user error.
  • Policy requires other law enforcement officers to intervene and make a report when they witness unnecessary force being used.
  • The Use of Force Continuum is followed and officers receive training on it each year.
  • Deputies are to give a warning before utilizing force when circumstances allow.
  • A Use of Force review board has been established.
  • Deputies are held to a strict social media usage policy, both on and off duty.
  • The sheriff’s office continues to actively build community relations.

“We continue to train and improve our operations to comply with federal and state law, as well as best practices to assure we serve our citizens to the best of our ability and power,” Atkinson said.

The body cameras were approved for purchase at the May meeting of the Edgecombe County commissioners.