Clyde police chief hosts annual police conference
Hundreds of police chiefs from across the state flocked to Western North Carolina this week for their annual winter conference for the N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police.
This year marked the second time the event was held at Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel, the most popular and successful venue so far, said Clyde Police Chief Gerard Ball, who has organized the event both years.
Although the event took place in Cherokee, Ball, who is a Waynesville resident, said his goal was to attract conference attendees to nearby towns, especially Waynesville.
"Everything had a Haywood County flavor to it this year," Ball said in regard to the opening ceremony Monday.
Local songstress Lisa Gillespie sang a moving rendition of the national anthem and Voices in the Laurel children's choir performed patriotic songs. They also dedicated one song to the memory of the victims of the shooting at Sandyhook Elementary School in Newton Connecticut with pictures of the victims shown during the song.
"I don't think there was a dry eye in the house after that," Ball said.
He even made a point to pass out free products from local stores and an informational brochure from the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce.
"Hopefully that gives them the draw to come back. Even though it was in Cherokee you could tell it was a Haywood County-centered event," he said.
The two-day event featured nearly 100 vendors catering to law enforcement needs, including Harley Davidson police motorcycles and military style drones designed for police use.
Aside from having a chance to network with other police chiefs from the eastern end of the state, local chiefs were able to attend educational seminars, legislative updates and a speech from Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Tim Hayworth, chief of police at Zebulon Police Department and president of the association, surprised Ball with the Outstanding Service Award for his role in hosting the event and his constant involvement in the organization.
"That was a complete surprise. I was not expecting that," Ball said.
Each police chief in the county attended the event both days. Canton Police Chief Bryan Whitner said he looks forward to the conference each year because of the opportunity to network and learn new techniques to bring back to his department.
"It was good to see all the police chiefs in the county there to show the cooperation and what we try to do to work together and stay on top of things here in Haywood County," Ball said.