Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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Burlington police chief to retire

Burlington police chief J. Jeffrey “Jeff” Smythe intends to retire from his post within the next few months.

Smythe advised city manager Hardin Watkins yesterday that he would like to step down by the end of April or May, which would also mark an eight-year tenure in Burlington.

Smythe, who is originally from Philadelphia, came to Burlington from over 24 years at various stints in law enforcement in Arizona.  One of the state’s attractions was that his wife had family nearby.

In his letter to Watkins, Smythe had praise for the police department he has led, as well as the city staff.  He also credited the city council as having “continually risen to the challenge of support for the police in trying times.” He termed it “the pinnacle of my career” to have served as Burlington’s police chief.

Smythe, 56, said it was “simply time for me to pursue other professional interests.”

Smythe was recently appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice.  Smythe was also instrumental over the past few months in the decision for Burlington to establish a Community Police Advisory Team; 16 of the 20 members of the group were unanimously appointed this past week by the city council.

In his resignation letter, Smythe also added a personal and humorous touch as well: “Our family has adapted to more public hugging when greeting friends,” he said in his resignation letter, adding, “we understand all of the nuanced applications of ‘bless your heart’ and ‘y’all’ is now firmly entrenched in my vocabulary.

Chief Jeff Smythe playing a prank on assistant chiefs Chris Gaddis (left) and Brian Long (center).

Smythe and his wife Kimberly have two adult children (a son and daughter) and an 18-year-old daughter.

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