Wingate names new police chief

Jul. 23, 2013 @ 05:13 PM

Wingate named Donnie Gay as its new police chief Monday.

Effective immediately, Gay moved into police chief’s position, which has been vacant since May.

Barry Glass, the department’s former chief, chose to step down from the position to pursue other career opportunities. Since then, Captain James Hyatt served as interim chief of the department.

Gay has been a police officer since 1994 and has been with the Town of Wingate since 2008, according to an email from Patrick Niland, Wingate’s town manager, in reference to the new police chief announcement.

“Donnie separated himself from the nearly 40 applicants with his education, his experience, and his vision for how the police department can work to assist the town in achieving our goals. Donnie will begin at $53,000 annually and will be eligible for a 5 percent increase after six months,” Niland said in the e-mail.

For Gay, a Monroe native, it’s an honor to have been named the new chief of the department.

“It’s a great accomplishment, I just graduated college and it’s still kind of sinking in right now,” Gay said.

He has attended college on and off for about 13 years and about a month ago graduated from an online program offered by Columbia Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration. He first began his police career at Wingate University as a campus police officer there back when it had its own police department in 1994, he said.

“I worked there only about six months and then I went to Monroe from 1994 to 2008,” he said.

In 2008 he made his way to the Wingate Police Department and has since enjoyed his time there and looks forward to his new role as chief of the department, he said.

“I’m super excited, and it’s a brand new chapter for me,” he said.

Before ever becoming a police officer, he worked as a manager at a grocery store. His father wanted him to work with the Highway Patrol but at that time he was not in good enough shape to do so. One day he began going on ride-a-longs with a friend of his father’s who was a police officer, he said.

“The main reason I got into it (law enforcement) was the spontaneity of it. At the grocery store I knew what I was going to be doing every day, two weeks from today and tomorrow so when I started doing the ride-a-longs, it felt like something new every day, it never got boring,” he said.

He did the ride-a-longs about two years before eventually going into the law enforcement profession himself. Before applying for the chief position at the Wingate Police Department, he worked in a variety of roles there. This included being a patrol officer and detective as well as the department’s evidence custodian, supervisor of the field training officer program, and in-service instructor for continuing education at the department, he said.

One of the reasons he chose to apply for the chief position is that there are things he whole-heartedly believes in and would like to see done more at the department. For instance, he believes in community policing, which he wants to see more of, he said.

“I want to bring that back and strengthen the ties with the community,” he said.

Currently, the Wingate Police Department has seven full-time officers and four part-time officers, he said.

“It’s a great honor to have been selected (chief of the department) and I’m super excited to have been given the opportunity to take the department on into a new vision,” he said.

The Wingate Police Department is at 4114 Highway 74 East in Wingate. For more information, contact the department at 704-233-1697 or visit the Town of Wingate website at www.townofwingatenc.gov.