APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – Apex’s newest police chief, Jason Armstrong, said he’s in a position he didn’t think he would be in when his law enforcement career began about 20 years ago.

“I never really thought about coming back home to North Carolina. So, that just goes to show how life plays out,” Armstrong said.

The beginning of August was his first week on the job. The husband, father of two, and North Carolina Central University alumnus grew up in Fayetteville.

He spent 17 years with the Forest Park Police Department in Georgia before landing the police chief job in Ferguson, Missouri in 2019.

After a nationwide search, Armstrong was selected to take over as Apex’s top cop in July. Armstrong is the town’s first African American police chief.

“The biggest thing is learning what is going on in the community. When I say community, I’m not just talking about the residents,” he said.

“[And] just getting out and meeting people and talking to people and seeing what people have to say about our role in the community and how they perceive us,” Armstrong said.

He takes over after last fall town council requested a cultural assessment that did a deep dive into the department.

Exploring the culture, racial tensions, and more. Diversity & HR Solutions, the firm that conducted it, wrote in one section, “racial bias and blind spots appear to be deeply entrenched into the APD culture.”

“Let’s sit down and let’s talk about it and see what people are talking about and don’t get so caught up on the words that were used and what somebody said. We have to focus on what the takeaway was,” Armstrong said.

While Armstrong said he’s still getting adjusted, his goals for the future are clear.

“Instead of just being looked at as we are just the enforcement arm of everything, but really being a partner in a community and a resource for people,” he said.