Kings Mountain’s new police chief ready to lead the department

Kings Mountain welcomed a new chief for its police department following the retirement of the city’s first female police chief.

Lisa Proctor, who had stepped into the role after Chief Jerry Tessneer passed away in 2018, left the department in June to devote more time to Christian ministry.

After:Kings Mountain’s first female police chief retires to join department

Gerald Childress of Mooresville was hired to take the helm and launched his career at Kings Mountain on August 29.

Selected from a pool of more than a dozen applicants, Childress is a welcome addition to the force, City Manager Marilyn Sellers said.

“We are thrilled to welcome Chief Childress to our team and look forward to him joining our community,” she said.

Born and raised in Mooresville, he began his career in law enforcement in Huntersville and quickly achieved his goal of becoming an investigator.

He said growing up, he was captivated by the TV shows “Miami Vice” and “Knight Rider.”

“It intrigued me in the law enforcement profession,” he said.

Childress said he was accepted to Catawba Valley Community College in Basic Law Enforcement Training and upon graduation he got his first law enforcement job in Huntersville in 1996 and was eventually transferred to Mooresville in 2005.

Childress said he received his undergraduate degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 1995 and eventually earned his master’s degree from Methodist University in 2010.

He has taken a multitude of leadership courses and courses and his goal is to go to the FBI National Academy.

As he rose through the ranks, aspirations to become a leader eventually began to form in his mind. At the time of his hire at Kings Mountain, he was working as an administrative lieutenant for the town of Spindale and had previously served as Deputy Town Chief of Mooresville for two years after a long career with the Mooresville Police Department.

“It worked really well for me,” he said of his work for Spindale. “It’s a small agency. They hired me to bring nuance and new ideas to the table.

He said when he first heard about the police chief’s post at Kings Mountain, he didn’t know much about the town and started researching.

He said he realized that exciting things were on the horizon and he was looking forward to entering the ground floor as the city prepares for exponential growth.

“I’m so grateful to come here and be a part of this growth,” Childress said. “My predecessor has done a great job of bringing this department to where it is, and I look forward to taking it forward.”

Although Childress is still finding his stride in his second week and gradually ramping up his efforts, he said one of the goals he has set for himself is to increase the department’s staff. As the city grows and new people arrive to find work and leisure, he said these people will need protection.

The Catawba Two Kings Casino will attract restaurants, hotels and other businesses, which will mean an increased need for law enforcement. Childress hopes to facilitate the budgeting of funds for the additional labor that will be required. He added that there are also new equipment needs and upgrades, including the radio system, which, although sufficient for now, will need to be updated soon.

Childress describes herself as transparent and personable.

“I want to be open and have this open communication,” he said. “I have an open door policy.”

He wants to continue to build on established relationships and develop new ones.

Childress and his wife currently live in Newton and said the city gave him a year to become a resident of Kings Mountain.

The couple have a 20-year-old daughter who is a student at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

He said he and his wife were looking for a place to call home in the area.

“I want to be part of this community,” Childress said. “I don’t want to be a ghost chef. I want people to know who I am.

The Kings Mountain Police Department has always been run by outspoken Christians, and Childress fits the same mold.

“I’m a very faith-based person,” he said.

He said the fact that Kings Mountain is a large faith-based community was a draw for him.

“It was almost like a roll call,” he said.

When Childress first walked into his new office, he was immediately struck by the picture hanging on the wall. It shows a team of rowers working together to move a boat forward and the caption “Working Together” was below the photo.

It was like a sign. Childress has a mantra he follows, “My oar will never come out of the water”, to describe how he plans to continually drive the agency forward.

He said it takes teamwork and people working together towards a common goal.

“It reinforced that this is where I’m meant to be,” he said.

Rebecca Sitzes can be reached at [email protected]

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