Laura Fahnestock's 30 Year Career

Chief Laura Fahnestock's 30+ Years of Law Enforcement Service

Fahnestock 2020

On June 1, 2015, Laura L. Fahnestock began her career as the Chief of Police of the Fuquay-Varina Police Department. That, however, was not the beginning of her distinguished law enforcement career. Her career began many years earlier while a small girl. Laura was well engrained with the love for law enforcement as she watched her father, Nelson Lockey, a Captain with the Raleigh Police Department serve with honor and distinction.

Laura’s law-enforcement career officially began in October 1988, when she served with the Raleigh Police Department as a civilian patrol officer and intern while attending Wake Technical Community College, earning her Associate in Applied Science Degree in Criminal Justice. Laura then attended N.C. Wesleyan College where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Justice and Public Policy. While enrolled at N.C. Wesleyan, Laura continued to serve as an intern, only this time with the Rocky Mount Police Department. Laura continued to serve the Rocky Mount Police Department when, on May 2, 1991, she began Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET).

Over the next 24 years, Laura worked in a number of different assignments with the Rocky Mount Police Department, including being a community relations officer, patrol corporal, patrol sergeant, administrative sergeant, administrative support sergeant, administrative support lieutenant, patrol shift lieutenant, patrol watch commander, the interim Administrative Service Division Commander, Uniform Operations Division Commander, and the Criminal Investigations Division Commander.

On June 1, 2015, Laura was selected to become the first female Police Chief of the Fuquay-Varina Police Department. Under Laura’s leadership, the Fuquay-Varina Police Department expanded the department from 36 sworn officers and 6 civilian staff members in 2015 to 59 sworn officers and 8 civilian staff members in 2021. One of those positions was a crime analyst, which would help drive the department's approach to enforcement being data-driven and analytical in nature. That data-driven, analytical approach saw a reduction in both property and violent crime during her nearly 7-year tenure as Chief of Police.

Laura’s commitment to community-oriented policing was evident every day she came to work. From the beginning, she stressed the importance of building partnerships and bridges with community stakeholders. Laura implemented a 21st Century Policing Philosophy internally to include enhanced training focused on fair and impartial policing and procedural justice, enhanced community relationships and transparency of departmental operations, enhanced technology programs by adding body cameras, updated mobile in-car cameras and interview room recording systems, improved internal auditing systems within records and personnel management. Under Chief Fahnestock’s leadership, the department engaged in community outreach and building trust by implementing such programs as Coffee with a Cop, Barbershop Rap Sessions, Cops in the Park, Unity in the Community, Grow with the Police, and Bicycle Safety Community Rewards, and the “Other Side” videos, which garnered national acclaim.

Laura brought a personal touch to the position of Police Chief and will be remembered for her willingness to get beyond the patrol car and allow people to get to know her behind the badge, her humor, and her love for all things Sci-Fi.  Laura launched the Fuquay-Varina Police Department Facebook page which currently has more than 20,000 followers, the highest of any agency in Wake County. Laura embraced the use of social media providing valuable crime reduction information with a hint of humor through her #9 pm routine memes and her ability to highlight her staff.

Laura’s was supported throughout her career by her husband Van who she has been married to for 29 years, and her daughter Victoria. Without Van and Victoria, Laura’s career would not have been as successful as it was as they are her support system.

Achievements

On November 1, 2021, Chief Laura L. Fahnestock announced her upcoming retirement on February 1, 2022. During her distinguished and extraordinary career with both the Rocky Mount and Fuquay-Varina Police Department, Chief Fahnestock:

  • Broke gender barriers and redefined the role of women in law enforcement by becoming the first woman with the Rocky Mount Police Department to be promoted to the ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain, and served as the first female Police Chief of the Fuquay-Varina Police Department.
  • Attended numerous high-profile and distinguished training including Police Executives Research Form (PERF), Administrative Officers Management Program (AOMP), UNC School of Government.
  • Obtained a Master of Business Administration Degree with a specialization in Criminal Justice from Northcentral University 
  • Appointed to Harrison Family YMCA of Rocky Mount Governance Board of Directors and Board Vice-Chairperson (2014-2015), NC Wesleyan College Board of Visitors, NC Justice Academy Advisory Committee for Hate Crime, Police Legitimacy and Procedural Justice, Joint In-Service Training Committee for the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission, NC Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) Governing Board as appointed by Speaker Tim Moore, NC Speaker of the House, Wake County Southern Regional Center Advisory Board/Advocacy Committee, 
  • Served as a past president of the North Carolina Law Enforcement Police Planners and Analysts Association and is a certified police accreditation manager from CALEA.
  • While managing the Patrol Services Division with Rocky Mount PD, oversaw a 10.9% decrease in violent crime and a 16.2% decrease in property crime, as well as reductions in the number of use-of-force incidents and citizen complaints.
  • Assisted with the creation of the Rocky Mount Traffic Unit, the Department’s Police Academy, Special Response Team, and the development of the rank of Senior Police Officer.
  • In the 6.5 years as Chief of Police, saw a 42% reduction in violent crime and a 47% reduction in property crime.
  • Saw Fuquay-Varina ranked as the “Safest City in NC” by Moneygeek.
  • Assisted with the completion of a newly renovated Police Department Headquarters Building.
  • Restructured the department and created three Divisions, Patrol Services, Criminal Investigations, and Support Services.
  • Added 22 sworn police officer positions, one telecommunicator, and a crime analyst.
  • Oversaw the creation of the department's first Canine Handler, Community Outreach Officer, and the Honor Guard. Authorized an expansion of the Criminal Investigations Division and Traffic Safety Unit.
  • Stressed an increased emphasis on technology by implementing one of the first body-worn camera programs in Wake County, the use of new databases for policy management, and complaint processing.
  • Employed a supervisory realignment to improve internal accountability, efficiency, employee retention, and career development. Employees attended more than 60,000 hours of additional training.  
  • Modernized the department's badge and patch.