His tenure as deputy chief in Elizabeth City is planned to take effect August 13.
In a detailed prepared statement Avens said he is looking forward to a new beginning in Elizabeth City and is up for the challenge.
He said he brings with him experience as deputy chief as well as chief of police.
He said “he strongly believes he can be an asset to the Elizabeth City Police Department, with the knowledge and skill sets he has gained in serving in both of these top executive positions.”
In the statement Avens said the decision to leave Weldon and move to Elizabeth City was not done in haste. “A lot of thought and consideration was given to the matter.”
He credits the support of his wife Christie, their three children and family in helping him to finalize his plans to move forward in this manner.
He also said he prayed about the decision and received counsel from his pastor, saying in the statement he “feels that sometimes one has to leave home to see what else the world has to offer.”
He added in the statement he “will always consider Weldon to be home and there has been lots of good memories made here in Weldon.”
Avens helped bring a 21st Century Policing concept to Weldon under former Chief Mark Macon’s leadership. “Both men really grasped the concept of community policing, and as a result implemented many outreach programs in the town,” he said in the statement.
He said he “feels a sense of achievement knowing that the Weldon Police Department was the first in the county to implement a body worn camera program. In addition, Weldon’s 2016 crime rates were the lowest in almost 30 years — a huge accomplishment that is attributed to being fully staffed and heavily involved in the community.”
He closed the statement saying he “wholeheartedly believes that one is only as effective as the quality of people he or she has serving the citizens, along with building the trust and support of the citizens.”
He said in a phone interview this afternoon, “This is an opportunity. I’ve always wanted to go to a bigger agency.”
There are no other issues in the decision at play other than advancing his career. “I think we have a great mayor, board and town administrator.”
Avens said it will be his recommendation that Lieutenant Chris Davis be named chief. “He has been a great asset for the police department over the past 15 years and is instrumental in criminal investigations and the town’s community policing efforts.”
Avens will be working as deputy chief under another Roanoke Valley native, Eddie Buffaloe Jr., who is chief of Elizabeth City police.
Buffaloe said, “We believe his experience, his training and managerial style will be a tremendous asset to our department and community. We were highly impressed with his community involvement and the community policing initiatives he put into place in Weldon.”
Buffaloe said Avens is approachable. “He’s trying to bridge the gap between police and the community. We do that here. We needed someone to come in with that scope and framework.”
Avens was named chief last year following the resignation of Macon.
Avens began his career as a law enforcement officer a few weeks after 9-11, serving as a patrol deputy with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office. In 2004 he became a narcotics officer and left in 2005 to become a school resource officer at what was Northampton County High School - East.
He came to Weldon as an investigative lieutenant in 2006 and during that time finished what he started after high school, earning a bachelor degree in business administration from St. Paul’s College and earning a master’s of science in administration in 2012 from Central Michigan University.
When he got his bachelor degree in 2010 he was made captain and since then has earned numerous certifications, including one as an instructor, which allows him to teach at the college level.
He is married to Christie C. Avens who currently serves as the Halifax County Register of Deeds and the couple have three children: Langston, who is currently serving in the United States Navy; Amber who is a 2018 graduate of the Roanoke Valley Early College and who will be attending North Carolina Central University in the fall; and James III, who will be a freshman at Roanoke Valley Early College in the fall.
He said his wife will continue to be register of deeds and has no plans to step down.