Some people might not think that being the police chief of a sleepy little town is such a big deal, but for Greg Bolen it’s a dream come true.
“I’m as excited as I can be. This has always been my dream job,” said Bolen, who will leave his position with Carroll County School System to take office as Hillsville’s new police chief on Dec. 1. “There’s three things I always wanted to be – a pro wrestler, a police officer and a school teacher. Ric Flair wasn’t hiring.”
“This town has done a lot for me, my teachers especially, and I want to give back. I feel lucky to be able to do that. I’m excited and eager to give back to the community,” he added.
Bolen spent 10 years with the Hillsville Police Department, working his way up to the rank of lieutenant, before leaving the department five years ago.
“I went back to college and got my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Old Dominion University in December. I’ve already signed up for the fast-track master’s program in police administration,” said Bolen, who is presently teaching special education classes at Carroll County Intermediate School and criminal justice at Carroll County High School.
Bolen points to deceased police officer Carl Harmon and former police chief Junior Sharpe as law enforcement officers who have had a big impact on him.
“Carl Harmon would pull up and talk to us kids. He took a common sense approach and the time to get to know people. He is one of the reasons I wanted to be a police officer,” said Bolen. “And I learned a lot from Junior Sharpe. I was always asking questions. He gave me the greatest compliment I’ve ever received when he said, ‘You stick here, and I can see you one day being the chief.’ That gave me great confidence.”
Bolen said he would follow the lead of those mentors in his duties as police chief.
“Compassion is a major component of law enforcement. It makes you more approachable,” he said. “It’s my experience is that if you help guide kids you won’t have to deal with them about the same situation again. I want to show them there’s a different way to deal with any situation that may arise.”
Bolen said he also wants citizens to know he will be available to hear their concerns at all times.
“I’m a very community-oriented guy. I’ll be very approachable and very accessible,” he said. “I don’t take any support I get for granted. The police department is only as good as the support it receives from the community. Citizens should have high expectations of us, and I want to earn their support.”
“It’s a team effort, working together as a police department, a town and a community. That way we can be successful.”