‘It’s a blessing': 24-year-old takes helm as N.C. police chief
William Armstrong is the first Black chief in Brookford – something he hopes will inspire others to join the law enforcement profession
By Sarah Calams
CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — For many, a new year often translates to taking on different challenges like eating healthier and working out more consistently. But for one 24-year-old, he decided to enter 2023 under a new title: police chief.
William Armstrong, police chief in the Town of Brookford, started the position in January, but had previously worked as a part-time officer for the department, the Hickory Daily Record reported. Prior to taking the police chief role, Armstrong worked at the Statesville (N.C.) Police Department and Lincoln County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Office. He’s currently the only full-time Brookford officer, but the department has nine part-time officers – with hopes of employing at least two full-time officers within the next couple of years.
“[Armstrong] has been hard at work ever since he started,” Brookford town councilman Charles Bargsley told the Hickory Daily Record. “[The town council] told him we would back him with whatever he needs. We want our police department to be bigger and stronger.”
The town council said choosing Armstrong as their next chief was a no-brainer, noting that he was a good fit because he’s familiar with the area and is well-known in the community. Bargsley acknowledged Armstrong’s age, but told the publication he sees that as a positive hiring factor – saying he hopes that means Armstrong will stay with the department for a long time.
Armstrong is focused on getting the department up to date, saying the agency was “operating pretty old school” with “completely paper copies.” Although his department is small, Armstrong is currently applying for a $25,000 grant to get new equipment like vests, computers and radios to keep his officers safe. And at the end of the year, Armstrong hopes to have new uniforms for his officers.
Armstrong is the first Black chief in Brookford and it’s a fact he hopes will inspire others to join the law enforcement profession: “Most of us don’t really get into law enforcement, let alone to be the chief. It’s a blessing. I hope that I can bridge that gap and hopefully pave the way so we can see a lot more people following their dream like I did.”
NEXT: How young is too young to be a police chief? Read our columnists’ take on the issue here.