Wilson police chief to retire on June 1

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Wilson Police Chief Thomas Hopkins (Wilson Police Department photo)

WILSON, N.C. — Wilson Police Chief Thomas Hopkins has announced plans to retire on June 1, concluding a tenure defined by building close connections between police officers and the community.

“It has been an honor for me to serve the citizens of Wilson as Police Chief over the last 11 years,” said Hopkins. “Our greatest strengths are the strong bonds and relationships with our citizens and youth. It is our citizens, city staff, and the hard-working men and women of the Wilson Police Department that are responsible for the department’s successes.”

A Wilson native, Chief Hopkins rose through the ranks of the department over his 26-year career, and as Chief he built a department based on community-oriented policing. His dedication to the Wilson Police Athletics League (PAL), both locally and nationally, earned him the National PAL Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2018. During Hopkins’ tenure the long-accredited department achieved CALEA gold standard accreditation with excellence, the highest achievement a department can reach. 

Hopkins joined the Wilson Police Department in January 1995, immediately entering Basic Law Enforcement Training. Upon graduation from the program he became a Police Officer I, working patrol.  Through the years he was promoted to Senior Patrol Officer, Hiring and Recruitment Coordinator, Sergeant, and Lieutenant before being appointed Chief. In additional to working as a patrol officer, he also served in the Detective Division in Vice/Narcotics, Problem-Oriented Response Team, and Professional Standards. He was appointed Chief in February 2010.

During his time as Chief, Hopkins was staunchly committed to building stronger relationships between officers and the community. His passion for reaching youth transformed Wilson’s PAL program from one football camp each summer to a year-round program with more than 30 annual programs and events. More than 700 Wilson-area youth are influenced through all the camps, programs, and activities that Wilson Police Department PAL conducts annually. He was instrumental in PAL becoming a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with its own board of directors and operations, leading to exponential growth for the program.

Chief Hopkins also led an effort to focus on longer-range programs to build lasting relationships between officers and youth. Several youth mentoring programs were created under his leadership, including Boys 2 Men, Saving Our Sons, Girlz-N-Progress, Smart Girls, and one for teen mothers, S.T.R.O.N.G. Moms. He was also very devoted to the Wilson Police Explorers program. 

“It has been a pleasure working alongside the city’s Leadership Team, our city personnel, and among the best civilian and sworn law enforcement personnel right here in our community,” continued Hopkins. “The support from the Wilson City Council during my tenure has enabled the Wilson Police Department to meet challenging goals and achieve positive results in numerous areas of our operations.”

Hopkins plans to stay involved in PAL as a volunteer after retirement.

An announcement about Hopkins’ successor will be made within the next week.

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