Newton Grove hires new police chief

Returning to his roots

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The Town of Newton Grove has looked to someone who formerly called the Sampson County town home.

Gregory Warren will take over the job in just a few weeks as he begins the process of moving back to Newton Grove after several years away.

Chief Warren considers Newton Grove home and will likely be in his new office the first of April. He’s currently awaiting all of the prerequisites to finally take over the job left vacant when former Chief Frankie Harrell resigned.

He said a simple act by a former chief led him to the ranks of a police officer and finally to the chief’s job.

“I was born and raised in Newton Grove, lived on West Grove Street back then,” he said. “Mr. John Hayes, former police chief, he would come down there and clock all of us boys on our bicycles to see who was the fastest.”

For Chief Warren, the time the old chief spent with the kids lit the spark inside and made him want to be a police officer.

“Whenever I got in law enforcement I said one day I want to be police chief in Newton Grove before I retire,” he said.

But the ties to Newton Grove run just a bit deeper as his brother, Michael Warren, is currently the principal at Hobbton High School and his parents retired back to the area.

“It’s just a matter of getting back home and being around my family,” Chief Warren said. “All my aunts and uncles and everybody lives down there.”

The new chief realizes there are a lot of things he will have to face when he takes over the office. There will be such things as updating policies and procedures as well as following the lead provided by the town board when they hired him.

“There’s a couple of things that have to be done at first,” he said. “They said pretty much they’re going to give me the standard this is how we want you to run, so have at it.”

The town and the new chief have been in steady communication for the last couple of months as Mr. Warren begins to transition from his current job with the High Point Parks and Recreation where he serves as a park ranger.

“They just want me to bring things back up to speed,” he said. “I want to do some things to make the officers’ job easier, I’m not going to say simpler.”

He includes everything from converting ticket writing from hand to electronic and other such small things the public may not even be aware of as the officers go about their daily routine.

It could even be as simple as changing the way reports are done and even including printers in each patrol vehicle.

“Just simple things to make it easier,” he said.

He also credits interim Chief Sgt. Milburn Edwards with getting things headed in the direction the new chief would like see the department head.

“He’s been doing an awesome job,” the new chief said. “He’s been helping getting us headed in the right direction.”

If there’s anything at all he’s looking forward to when it comes to getting started, becoming a part of the community sits at the top of his list.

He’s already begun planning on a way to bring the youth of Newton Grove and the police department together. He said he’s already contacted Hobbton Elementary.

“That’s our next generation and one of these days they’re going to be running our community, the county and the nation,” he said. “Just to be able to have a positive influence. Whether it’s helping coach a baseball team or having a reading buddy at the elementary school, just being able to reach out to everyone in the community.”

For that he’s going to have an open door policy and will welcome members of the community to sit down and discuss issues important to them.

“I’ve been back and forth for 25 years,” he said. “There’s a lot of people I know and a lot of people I don’t know. I look forward to getting re-acquainted with some and getting acquainted with others.”

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