'I hope my journey brings strength to others:' New Cary police chief shares plans, goals

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- This week, Toni Dezomits was named to the position she had aimed for, dating to her initial job interview with the department.

"When I came here, I came here under Chief (David) Fortson and he said, 'what do you want to do here?' and I said, 'I want to be the chief.' And he said, 'don't you think I should hire you first?' And I said, 'well, OK, if we have to do that pesky hiring thing -- let's do it,'" Dezomits recalled with a smile.

Back in 1998, she was a patrol officer, the first in a string of roles she has held with the department, which also includes sniper on the SWAT team, a Field Operations officer, District 2 commander and Professional Standards commander. In December 2015, she was named Assistant Chief.

"There's probably not a greater honor than being named chief, especially of a place like Cary, North Carolina," Dezomits said.

Dezomits has served as interim chief since December 2018, giving her six months to transition into the role ahead of a busy summer. Among her priorities: the implementation of body-cameras for the department, starting in July. She said she has looked to incidents in neighboring jurisdictions, notably Raleigh, in creating their rules.

"That helped us kind of how to develop our policy, and make adjustments," Dezomits said.

Raleigh Police changed its policy after a deadly officer-involved shooting in April, when an officer was wearing a body camera, but it was not turned on. In May, Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown sent City Council a memo stating body cameras would always passively record video, with no audio, even if an officer fails to turn it on.

Details of Cary's body-cam policy have not been completed.

Dezomits also said the department is reviewing officer shift scheduling, and examining the impact of laws affecting juveniles set to go into effect in December.

They're all decisions that Dezomits has spent her entire career preparing for, as she now joins a growing list of female chiefs across the state.

"I hope that my journey brings strength to others who say - 'Well, I have that same dream, but I don't know if I can get there.' You can get there," said Dezomits.

Prior to joining Cary Police, Dezomits served in the United States Army, where she received the Army Commendation Medal for distinguished service for her service during Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield.

The Town of Cary held a nationwide search for the role, which included 59 candidates.
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