PEMBROKE — The town’s new police chief was sworn in on Monday night and then made promises to improve the image of the department he will run.
“The way I look at it sometimes, we are under appreciated and have a negative image,” Grant Florita, a 13-year veteran of the department, said after the Pembroke Council’s meeting. “In my years of experience in this town and in law enforcement in general, we are generally frowned upon. One of my goals is to convince others that law enforcement isn’t just there for enforcement, but that we are there for the community. …
“I have stated in the past that my intentions and goals are to improve overall service in the town of Pembroke. I will improve the quality of living for the residents. We will maintain strong relations with other organizations like the Highway Patrol. My promise is to fulfill each and every demand and promise that I have made, with the town’s best interests in mind.”
Councilman Ryan Sampson expressed confidence in the new chief.
“He has been with law enforcement for a long time and will do a great and wonderful job,” Sampson said. “He has an excellent track record.”
Florita said he knows it will take time to change people’s mindsets.
“It’s going to be a day-to-day process — dealing with things as they unfold,” Florita said. “But I’m going to try to instill in my younger officers that they must not only do their duties, but also assist and help others in the community.”
Florita has been the interim police chief since September. The position became vacant when Frank Hernandez retired in June, and Detective Sebastian Veneziano was the interim chief before Florita.
Florita will oversee 12 police officers and five administrators.
“He overcame some obstacles and it will be a pleasure to work with (Florita),” Town Manager Oryan Lowry said. “I look forward to the next 40 years of working with him.”
In other business, the council:
— Voted to reduce the number of provisions for a conditional-use permit from 51 to 10, eased restrictions on signs, and added regulations for operating a tattoo parlor.
— Voted to close an abandoned alley at 404 S. Jones St.
— Awarded the Wooten Company an engineering contract for a lift station at Locklear Court.