SILER CITY — Chris Gallimore spent the last eight years working as a patrol officer for Siler City’s police department.
In his new role, he’s still patrolling — only now as the town’s code enforcement officer, responsible for ensuring its rules and ordinances are observed.
Gallimore was seeking a job with a more regular work schedule, so when the town transitioned away from having code enforcement services performed by an outside contractor, he sought the opportunity.
“I’m still in what I would call the transition phase,” Gallimore said. “I’m not used to the office type of work, so it’s been a learning experience.”
Gallimore’s role with the town is to enforce codes and ordinances, so the job is to ensure code and ordinances are adhered to, and to step in to tackle violations when he sees them or when they’re reported.
Siler City’s “code of ordinances” is a lengthy list of the town’s laws and regulations addressing such issues as building standards, noise, abandoned and junked cars, solid waste collection, the use of guns or fireworks in town limits, whether smoking is permitted in town-owned vehicles (it’s not), littering, loitering, regulations that govern pawnbrokers and cab drivers and much more. The town’s municipal code, found on its website, is 27 chapters long, some of which have more than 100 sections.
Before Gallimore was named the code enforcement officer, his job was done through a third party — State Code Enforcement Inc. — contracted by the town. Town Manager Hank Raper approached the board of commissioners with a proposal to create a code enforcement officer position in town hall, bringing the process back in house. The board approved the motion on Oct. 3 last year.
Gallimore’s new job is to ensure residents and businesses adhere to the long list of dos and don’ts, and addressing violators and violations — in part by doing what he did in his old position: enforcing the law of the land.
“Somebody may call in and say their neighbor has a junk car in their yard that looks bad, and I go out there to see if there’s a violation,” Gallimore said. “Different violations have different timeframes for fixing them. If there’s a junk pile in somebody’s front yard or something like that, they’ve got 10 days to clean it up, or I would start sending them civil penalties or hire a contractor to go out there and bill the residents for that.”
As a patrolman, Gallimore would hand out violations in the form of tickets or make arrests. In the new role, he does things like posting citations on condemned buildings, mailing warnings to homes with unkempt yards and finding ways to fix things that negatively impact the health and safety of the town and its residents.
“When I was in the police department, there was this different kind of relationship (with residents),” Gallimore said. “They didn’t want to talk to you because I could arrest them … Now I can get out of the car and talk to them about how they can correct these civil violations.”
Gallimore said his previous experience as a police officer comes in handy. He knows local residents and town staff, and knows his way around town hall.
“It feels like I’ve had to deal with everybody in town on one way or the other, whether it’s been a traffic stop or just going to their house to respond to a 911 call,” he said. “Now, I’m able to get rapport with people in a different way.”
Gallimore wants to establish a regular routine to go out with town commissioners to visit their respective districts, and to host town hall-style meetings with residents to hear concerns.
“It might be one church in this district one time, and then another church or another district,” he said. “They can come, and it’s a way for the community to ask questions once every other month.”
Ultimately, he wants residents to take pride in their community. Ensuring buildings and green spaces adhere to high standards is a first step to making that happen.
“I want to make it so when somebody is driving through town, they don’t look at it and think this is a trashy town,” Gallimore said. “I don’t want that to be said, so that’s one reason why I think it’s a good position to be in … I want people to take pride in our communities.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HeedenTaylor.