RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Community activists met with new Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker Thursday as he’s faced criticism for making various staffing changes at his office.
Members of Justice Served NC, who supported Baker in his bid to oust former Sheriff Donnie Harrison, sat down with him to talk about what they think some of his next steps should be.
“Keep the lines of communication open. Have that open door. Be transparent with your community,” said Diana Powell, executive director of Justice Served NC.
CBS 17 learned the sheriff has fired or demoted more than 40 people since taking office, including some deputies with more than a decade of experience.
He defended the staff shakeup in a news conference Jan. 17.
“And, we are looking forward to moving past this and continue to serve this county,” Baker said.
Following their meeting Thursday, Powell said she supported the sheriff in the decisions he’s made so far.
“That’s his internal movement, and we trust that he is doing the right job in that, and it’s not easy,” she said.
She said the group discussed wanting the sheriff to support programs at the jail aimed at reducing recidivism and supporting families. They also want him to address issues of equity in the community.
“He is in support of our work, making sure that citizens receive fair and equal treatment and establishing preventive, proactive strategies,” said Calla Wright.
CBS 17 previously reported Master Deputies Gray Speight and Steven Williamson were fired after speaking out against then Lt. Teddy Patrick after he made homophobic remarks during a training seminar.
“That’s not true,” said Baker at a news conference last week. “They were terminated because I didn’t have the confidence in them to follow and implement my policies moving forward.”
Baker said he plans to meet with members of the LGBT community in the coming days. It’s not clear when that meeting will occur.