03/02/11 — Bell retires as police chief

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Bell retires as police chief

By Gary Popp
Published in News on March 2, 2011 1:46 PM

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Goldsboro police Chief Timothy J. Bell opens a gift during his retirement reception at the First Baptist Church Friday afternoon. The gift was a collection of fly fishing equipment.

Chief Tim Bell officially retired from the Goldsboro Police Department on Tuesday after nearly 30 years of service.

Bell said hard work and serving alongside dedicated officers allowed him to rise through the ranks of the department, a ride he said he has enjoyed.

"It has been fun. What a ride. I can't imagine doing anything else. I have had just a ball. I mean, 98 percent of it has been outstanding, I would not have passed it up for nothing," Bell said.

For Bell retirement is bittersweet.

"There is a huge part of me that doesn't want to go," Bell said.

Bell said he a keeps asking himself if he should have remained chief for a few more years, but then he thinks about spending time with his family, working on his farm and taking time to enjoy his recreational hobbies.

"You need to think about your family, and there are some other things I would like to do and explore while I am still fairly young," Bell said.

Bell said he looking forward to fishing, hunting and playing golf, activities that has taken a backseat to his career.

Bell talked passionately about his long stint working in narcotics and the camaraderie he developed with the other officers with whom he worked.

"I worked drugs with a close group of individuals. From those in the police department, SBI and sheriff's office we worked together everyday. We got very close. We could go on a search and everybody knew what everybody else was going to do. We worked good together and I enjoyed it greatly," Bell said.

As chief, Bell remained eager to work with less experienced officers, showing them the ropes.

"Just assisting your investigators working anything from breaking and enterings to, unfortunately, homicides now and then where you could come up with strategies on how to best work a case and actually talk about fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments and making sure we were doing things within our constitution rights and how we were going to interview someone and come up with different strategies to work cases," Bell said. "I mean I loved it, and I still love it to this day."

While Bell said it will be difficult to no longer be involved in the day-to-day activity, it is not the police work that will be most difficult to leave.

"I will miss the people the most. I have a lot of good friends here."

Bell said that he has held his staff to high standards of professionalism, but he has also provided an environment for those on the staff to enjoy themselves.

"At lunch time, sometimes, certain people gather in the break room, and they get so loud we have to shut the door because they are in there having a good time, that is what I want. We spend a lot of time working. We need to be safe, but I want them to enjoy their time together," Bell said.

Bell said he hopes his time on the police department will continue to have an effect after he is gone.

"I hope I made an influence by giving us a stronger police department, one that works together as a team and is able to get things accomplished. I think we have done that, and I think we will continue to do that."

Bell said the next police chief has the opportunity to work with an extremely capable staff.

"We have a great staff. I would put them up against anybody. We have a command staff of majors that is just outstanding and our captain staff is just tremendous. And, then you have the investigators that can handle any type of case and the knowledge to handle anything you throw at them," Bell said.

Maj. Jeff is serving as interim police chief. The city also is looking for a new city manager, who will hire a permanent chief.

"It is really important whoever the new city manager is going to be, whoever she or he hires for this job. I personally feel it needs to be someone who knows this police department and knows the people here. This is a pretty close knit group who works well together," Bell said

Bell said that it is important that his successor allow the police staff to have autonomy on the job.

"Whatever you do don't micro-manage or do any type of unilateral control. Support your people, give them what they need and let them work because they will do that. You have to hold them accountable to do the job, but at the same time you don't want to tie them down. You want them to be able to work. Let them work, support them and things will work out from there," Bell said.

Bell said some of the most significant challenges he has faced as chief includes working with a limited budget.

"Just trying to stretch a dollar has been tough. I am telling you it is tough. I think we have done a very good job," Bell said.

Bell said his staff has become so accustomed to working with a strict budget and that coupons are regularly used to purchase office supplies from local retailers.

Bell said he has not only worked with talented police officers, but dedicated city officials.

"I have worked with several different councils, and I have always got support. The mayor and the council have spoken up for me several different times. (Mayor Al King) has always had my back," Bell said.

Bell said he wants to be remembered as a police chief who was a team builder and a team player.

"It is not always me, me, me or what I can do, it is about what we can do together," Bell said.