HIGH POINT — The city announced Wednesday that Travis Stroud has been named chief of police by interim City Manager Randy McCaslin.
Stroud, a 25-year veteran of the High Point Police Department who has served as interim chief since August 2020, was chosen from among 19 applicants, McCaslin said.
Stroud was the unanimous choice of a four-person panel that interviewed candidates. McCaslin said he stood out for his work taking on the interim role amid major challenges like the coronavirus pandemic and a national climate of controversy around law enforcement.
“Travis was certainly our choice, based on the results of that interview, plus the fact that, since August, he’s just done a tremendous job,” McCaslin said. “The City Council supported him, his staff at the (police department) supported him, and we’ve heard from so many in the community on his behalf.”
Stroud is the third straight chief to be promoted from within to the top job, following Marty Sumner and Ken Shultz.
Previously, he served as an assistant chief, a patrol commander, and in various other roles in the department, including commander of the Vice and Narcotics Unit and field-training team commander.
Councilman Chris Williams praised Stroud’s experience with the police department’s longtime deterrence strategy focused on habitual violent offenders.
“I was really glad that Travis was offered and accepted the position because, to me, what was most important was that whoever was given the job knows High Point and knows what was successful in reducing crime in the city,” he said. “For me personally, it has to be someone who understands how unique High Point is — the partnerships, the collaboration and training in proper de-escalation, proper protocols to handle (traffic) stops. I want (officers) safe, but it’s important that they get to know their community and connect with their community.”
Williams said he believes Stroud excels at the community aspect of policing and has kept the department engaged in several initiatives throughout the pandemic, working with outside groups like the High Point Community Against Violence and the Guilford County Family Justice Center, which targets issues like domestic violence.
“There’s always a learning curve to the new police chief that we won’t have with Travis Stroud, who was born and raised in High Point,” said Councilman Victor Jones, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee. “I think the community likes Travis Stroud. He’s respected. He’s kind to people, and especially in today’s political climate, that’s important.”
A graduate of Andrews High School and Appalachian State University, Stroud said he never considered seeking the top job until Shultz retired last year and he saw the importance of continuity.
“I felt like I owed it to our officers here. They’ve done such a wonderful job,” he said. “I also feel like I owe this city. They gave me a chance when I was just a dumb kid — 23, 24 years old. I have no doubt this will be the toughest assignment of my career, but I cannot imagine working anywhere else. I am committed to these officers and this city.”
The city ended 2020 with crime down double digits and the trend has continued so far this year, with violent crime down 19% and property crime down 9%.
“The only thing we’re up on is homicides, with four. We had two at this time last year,” Stroud said, adding that arrests have been made in all four killings.
He said he plans to continue all of the department’s enforcement efforts and is planning a new initiative targeting first-time firearm offenders.
He also plans to launch a new “community collaboration board” that he envisions as “a group of citizens who are pro-High Point we can bring in and help us identify community issues or crime issues and say, ‘The Police Department needs to do something about this.’ ”
TRIAD — Gov. Roy Cooper will ease more COVID-19 restrictions, including dropping the outdoor mask mandate, effective this Friday afternoon as state public health officials keep moving toward a new normalcy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor announced Wednesday that masks still will be required indoors but will no longer be mandated outdoors. That means high school athletes also will no longer be required to wear masks in outdoor sports, state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said.
Masks remain strongly recommended outdoors by state public health advocates for those who are in crowded areas and higher-risk settings where social distancing is difficult.
Cooper also raised the capacity limit for gatherings effective at 5 p.m. Friday: The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 50 to 100, and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 100 to 200.
Occupancy limits won’t change for businesses such as restaurants and personal care salons and other venues, Cooper said during the latest COVID-19 briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh.
Cooper and Cohen reiterated that the state still plans to ease more restrictions effective June 1. That would include pulling back on indoor mask restrictions if at least two-thirds of North Carolinians have had at least one dose of vaccine.
As of Wednesday, nearly 49% of state residents 18 and older had at least one dose, but surveys have shown that a large number of those who have not yet been vaccinated are hesitant to get the shots. Most of those who have gotten a shot, or a little more than 39% of all adults, have been fully vaccinated.
The plan for June 1 changes also will depend on COVID-19 metrics such as infection rates and hospitalizations remaining on a positive trend.
“While our numbers are mostly stable, we have more work to do to beat back this pandemic,” Cooper said. “Let’s work hard in May and get as many people vaccinated as we can before summer gets here.”
Cohen said more clinics are dropping vaccination appointment requirements, which is making it easier to get inoculated through walk-ins.
“Fortunately, we now have enough vaccine for everyone,” Cohen said. “They are free and widely available across the state.”
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TRIAD — U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R-13th, announced Wednesday that he will seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2022.
Budd joins a growing field of candidates who want to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr.
Budd, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, was first elected to Congress in 2016. His district includes Davidson and Randolph counties.
His Senate bid means that next year’s election will involve an open seat in the 13th District since candidates in North Carolina can’t run for more than one office in the same election cycle.
Budd said in a video declaring his candidacy that he will push back against what he considers a radical agenda under President Joe Biden.
“We all know that Joe Biden is a weak leader who won’t stand up to the radical left,” Budd said. “Today, the U.S. Senate is the last line of defense against becoming a woke, socialist wasteland.”
The Winston-Salem native highlighted his upbringing in Davie County, noted he is a proud gun store owner and embraced several culture war symbols.
“The only trigger warning around here is keep your finger off it until you’re ready to fire,” Budd said.
Central to Budd’s campaign will be issues of immigration, religious liberty and the economy.
Budd is the third major GOP candidate to enter the race. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and former N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory also have declared their Senate bids.
State Sen. Jeff Jackson and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley are the best known Democrats so far seeking their party’s nomination.