RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For the first time since taking office, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker is speaking out on his restructuring of the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.
“Over the past few weeks, the sheriff’s office has received some unfavorable attention regarding decisions I’ve made regarding personnel matters,” Baker said.
After reassigning more than 40 deputies in his first few weeks on the job, Baker says he’s doing nothing different than his predecessor, Donnie Harrison.
“I’ve made decisions across the board regardless of age, race, sex,” said Baker. “For some to say I am biased against anyone in this office is clearly misinformed.”
The Wake County chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police has been critical of Baker for creating what it calls a hostile work environment where officers will fear reprisal for speaking out and identifying wrong doing, according to Wake County NC FOP Lodge #41 President Frank Sancineto.
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. “They were terminated because I didn’t have the confidence in them to follow and implement my policies moving forward.”
Though Baker admitted that the incident in question happened, he has since promoted Patrick to the rank of Captain, which has drawn the attention of members of the LGBT community.
“You have the right to be concerned,” said Rev. Clayton Brooks. “You should never at all call into question that law enforcement doesn’t have your back, and isn’t able to treat you with fairness and equality.”
“My promotion of Capt. Patrick was made after examining his entire work record, and including a review of the training event that is in question,” said Baker.
“There will be steps taken over the next few months to ensure that the community and all citizens in Wake County know this sheriff’s office is committed to bettering itself so it can serve all citizens of Wake Co.,” said Brooks.
Baker is working on scheduling a series of meetings with the LGBT community that he says will begin in the middle of next week, but a date has yet to be set.