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New leadership coming to Cary police, fire departments. See who’s been hired so far.

Mike Cooper was recently promoted to Cary Fire Chief.
Mike Cooper was recently promoted to Cary Fire Chief.

The police and fire departments in Cary soon will be under new leadership.

Cary Police Chief Tony Godwin recently announced his retirement early next year, while Deputy Fire Chief Mike Cooper has been promoted to become chief of the fire department.

Godwin has been police chief since 2015. He has spent his entire career with the Cary Police Department. He joined the department in 1990 as a patrol officer after a college internship.

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Tony Godwin Town of Cary

“He has had a profound impact on me and our community,” Cary Town Manager Sean Stegall said in a news release. “His genuinely thoughtful and caring nature along with his tremendous capabilities as a communicator have been key in strengthening the bond between our officers and the individuals they serve.”

Stegall is encouraging current Cary officers to apply for the position. But he also is conducting a national search. Godwin was selected from 78 applicants, including candidates from Oregon and Nevada. Stegall said having a deep pool of local candidates would help with future chief searches.

“Our search process will be as much about potentially identifying and preparing our next, next chief as it will be selecting Tony’s successor,” Stegall said. “Officers often become chiefs at the very end of their careers. If we have talented, committed officers farther down in the ranks whom we can develop, then we have an obligation to them as well as our citizens to do so.”

Keeping it local

Stegall stayed close to home when he promoted Cooper to be fire chief.

Cooper, a 31-year veteran of the fire service, succeeds Allan Cain as Cary’s fire chief. He became deputy fire chief in 2017 after being hired as an assistant chief in 2005 from Raleigh.

Cooper’s extensive experience includes recruitment, training, operations, administration, budgeting, urban search and rescue, accreditation, community preparedness, emergency medical services, fire code and inspections, hazardous materials and technical rescue.

“Mike has impressed me as a deep thinker, respected leader, and caring human being,” Stegall said. “I appreciate his willingness to be Cary’s next fire chief, and I look forward to the ideas and energy he’ll bring to the organization’s leadership team.”

Cooper and his family will be available to meet the public prior to the Town Council meeting Nov. 15 at Cary Town Hall.

Stegall is using this opportunity to reorganize the town’s first responder leadership duties. Cain was shifted from the fire department to a new public safety director position in the Town Manager’s Office.

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Allan Cain Town of Cary

Cain, who had been fire chief since 2003, now is responsible for coordinating efforts by the two departments and overseeing emergency management.

It’s only possible and appropriate to create a public safety director in Cary at this point in time because of Allan’s talent, skills, interest, and leadership as well as the respect he enjoys,” Stegall said.

Deputy Town Manager Mike Bajorek also announced his retirement this winter.

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Mike Bajorek Town of Cary

He joined the town in 1988 as assistant director of Public Works and was promoted to Public Works director in 1996. He was promoted to assistant town manager in 2009 and became Cary’s first deputy town manager in 2013. He also served as Cary’s interim town manager for several months in 2015-16 while a new one was being sought.

“Mike has given so much to this community over the last 30 years, and I am personally grateful for the way he welcomed me into the organization in 2016,” Stegall said.

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