RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Newly elected Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker defended controversial staff promotions and firings.
"For anyone to say that I am biased against anyone in this office is clearly misinformed," Baker said during a news conference Thursday.
Two deputies, who were fired last month by Baker, claim it was out of retaliation for reporting that a supervisor made inappropriate comments about gay people during a 2017 training.
Baker said that isn't true.
"They were terminated because I did not have the confidence in them to follow and implement my policies moving forward," Baker said.
Teddy Patrick, the supervisor in question, was demoted following those claims by former sheriff Donnie Harrison.
Sheriff Baker said he promoted Patrick to captain following his review of the alleged inappropriate comment. Baker became emotional speaking about Patrick's promotion during the news conference.
"Capt. Patrick provides 19 years of institutional knowledge and experience. That is of great value to this office and residents of this county," Baker said.
When ABC11 asked Baker to respond to those in the LGBT community who feel concerned about their safety since the insensitive statements were made, Baker replied, "This person does not have these views. What he said. He shouldn't have said that. We've dealt with that. He didn't mean anything by it. The person he was talking to didn't have a problem with it because he didn't have any ill will. It was a training class. He made an example he shouldn't have made."
Some clergy members in the LGBT community are standing by the office. The Rev. Clayton Brooks, president of LGBTQ Democrats of Wake County, attended the news conference and pledged an ongoing partnership and meetings with Baker.
"Steps will be taken over the next few months to ensure the community and all citizens in Wake County know that this sheriffs office is committed to bettering itself," Brooks said.
"We are OK here," Baker said. "We are here to serve you. We have nothing against the community."
As for the fired officers getting their jobs back, Baker said: "Have not considered, haven't thought about it."
Meetings between the sheriff's office and members of the LGBT community continue next week.
Wake County sheriff defends controversial promotion of deputy who made inappropriate comments
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