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The Administration of Chief William E. Swing

On February 25, 1975, Lieutenant Colonel William E. Swing became the 15th Chief of the Greensboro Police Department. The next nine years saw a great many changes within the Department.

In May of 1975, Chief Swing announced a reorganization of the Department. He created a fourth bureau (Community Services) and organized the patrol forces into divisions. Another improvement brought about by Chief Swing early in his administration was the institution of a new uniform. In 1976 the Department retired the two-tone, blue uniform first worn in the 1950s. The new uniforms were solid black and featured a shoulder patch.
In May of 1975, Chief Swing held the first ceremony to honor the Department's slain officers. Held during National Police Week, this ceremony has been conducted annually ever since. Organizationally, a Warrant Squad was created within the Department.

On June 26, 1978, Officer Michael Gray Winslow responded to assist other officers on an emergency call. As Officer Winslow approached the Vanstory Street overpass on Interstate 40, his vehicle went out of control, slid into the median and struck a bridge support column. Officer Winslow was rushed to Moses Cone Hospital with severe injuries, but he died the next morning. Only 21 years old, he was the eighth and youngest officer to die in the line of duty. He is memorialized through the Michael G. Winslow Award, presented to the most outstanding officer in each recruit school.

Klan/Nazi Confrontation

On November 3, 1979, a violent incident occurred which drew national attention to Greensboro. The Workers Viewpoint Organization (later to become the Communist Workers Party) organized an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in Greensboro. They were confronted by members of the Klan and the Nazi party. Gunfire erupted and the ensuing shootout left five persons dead and several more wounded. Arrests were made swiftly by responding officers.

The City remained tense during the following week. A funeral march was held the next weekend and Greensboro officers were assisted by the National Guard and other law enforcement agencies. The march was held peacefully. As a result of this incident, the Department was faced with many challenges. Lengthy and emotional civil and criminal trials followed. However, through detailed operational planning, further violence was prevented.

Specialized Units and Programs

Chief Swing made great strides in the area of specialized units and programs. New teams, such as the Special Response Team, Hostage Negotiation Team and the first Departmental Canine Unit were formed. The Underwater Recovery Team, the Honor Guard and the Bomb Squad were used frequently and became proficient during Chief Swing's administration. During Chief Swing's administration, the framework for the Departmental Awards Program was developed. In addition, the Crime Stoppers program, Career Development program, citizen ride-along program, Community Advisors program, Differential Police Response program and the Managing Criminal Investigations program were implemented.

Other new units were also added including: Telephone Response Unit, Staff Duty Office, District Coordinators, and the Crime Analysis, Staff Inspections and Special Intelligence sections. Under a federal grant, a Driving While Impaired program was begun, using video equipment for court evidence. A permanent polygraph program was also started. In addition, the Departmental newsletter was begun. In the area of Communications, Computer Assisted Dispatch equipment was installed in the Communications Center and Mobile Digital Terminals were placed in many patrol cars, eliminating the need for voice communications for routine inquiries and greatly enhancing the ability of the Department to provide timely field services for the most critical needs.

During Chief Swing's administration, patrol officers switched from working seven days on with two days off to a schedule that included five days on and three days off. As a result, the Field Operations Bureau was reorganized to accommodate a fifth division and overlapping shifts.

In the summer of 1982, the Department concluded an internal investigation into drug use by police officers. As a result of this investigation, 12 officers were terminated or resigned.

Programs developed during Chief Swing's administration brought a new level of sophistication to law enforcement in Greensboro. On June 30, 1984, Chief William E. Swing retired and Major P.J. Colvard was appointed as the Acting Chief of Police.