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Posted on: July 29, 2022

Police Chief Catrina A. Thompson Announces Retirement

Catrina A. Thompson, Winston-Salem’s chief of police since 2017, announced today that she will retire this December, having served the citizens of Winston-Salem for more than 29 years.

"Serving as Winston-Salem’s chief of police is one of the greatest honors of my public safety career,” Thompson said. “I will always love this agency and believe in its mission. My commitment to law enforcement will always be strong as I truly respect, appreciate and support this noble profession.”

Thompson started her career as a police officer on Jan. 24, 1994. She was promoted to senior police officer (today’s rank of corporal) in 1998, sergeant in 2003, lieutenant in 2006, captain in 2014 and assistant police chief in 2016. During her career she served in the Investigative Services Bureau, the Field Services Bureau, and the Support Services Bureau. She also served on the Crisis/Hostage Negotiation Team.  

As chief, Thompson gained national recognition among her peers for her wide-ranging efforts to improve police-community relations. Also on her watch, the department earned the Tri-Arc Award from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, given to law enforcement agencies that earn all three CALEA accreditations for Law Enforcement, Public Safety Communications and Public Safety Training Academy; it won grants that enabled the department to implement its Real Time Crime Center, and it hired a public information officer to improve the department’s ability to communicate with the news media and the community.

I am most certain that even greater days are ahead,” Thompson said. “The future of the WSPD remains bright because of the women and men that are committed to being the guardians of our city.”

Thompson is a native of Detroit and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Wayne State University in Detroit and a master’s in public administration from Appalachian State University. She is also a graduate of the Public Executive Leadership Academy of the School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill, the West Point Leadership Program of Methodist University, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Association program, and Leadership Winston-Salem.

City Manager Lee Garrity said that Thompson’s steady leadership served the city well at a time when police-community relations across the nation have been strained. “Our city has been blessed to have a police chief who earned the trust of the citizens and allowed Winston-Salem to weather the sorts of incidents that can set police and community relations on edge,” Garrity said. “Our next police chief will have some big shoes to fill.”

Garrity said the city will retain an executive search firm to conduct a national search for the next police chief, in consultation with the mayor, members of the City Council, police employees and community leaders.


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