A path-breaking career

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 10:36 AM

Later this year, Carolyn Hutchinson won’t be helping to protect and serve the town of Carrboro for the first time in almost three decades.

Hutchinson, who has been a Carrboro police officer since September 1984 and chief since November 1998, told town manager David Andrews last week that she plans to retire Oct. 1.

She has had a proud and path-breaking career as a law enforcement officer,

She has worked to nurture strong community relations, and negotiated the sometimes difficult path of enforcing the laws in a community of notably liberal sensibilities.

She has proved adept at handling the conflicts that can sometimes cause – responding both to the community’s welcoming attitude toward immigrants and neighbors concerns about day-labor gatherings on Jones Ferry Road.

“I see law enforcement as part of the solution, not as part of the problem in this community,” Hutchinson told The Herald-Sun’s Beth Velliquette last week in discussing her decision to retire.

Hutchinson was the first openly gay police chief in North Carolina, a fact she downplayed until she felt she should speak out in the face of a lawsuit challenging the town’s extension of benefits to domestic partners of its employees.

“I just wanted people to realize my family was not different than other families, and I felt that we deserved the same benefits as everyone else.”

Hutchinson will be only 54 when she retires, and she clearly anticipates another career post-retirement although she says its “open” as to what that will be.

She has certainly left her mark on a community in her law enforcement career, and her service will be both remembered and missed when she steps down.