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Cornelius News

New police chief worked his way up through the ranks

Major David Baucom becomes CPD Chief of Police on Jan. 3, 2023 | Photo by Dave Yochum

Dec. 14. By Dave Yochum. There will soon be another long-time officer at the top of the Cornelius Police Dept.

Major David Baucom becomes Chief of Police on Jan. 3 of next year, two dozen years after joining the Cornelius Police Dept.

In that 24 years he’s seen Cornelius grow from a little over 6,000 to more than 31,000. All the big Crown Vics are gone, replaced with Charger Pursuit vehicles and Ford Police Interceptors based on the Ford Explorer.

They’re all fitted with computers, a far cry from the days when he launched his law enforcement career with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office in 1992.

The Independence High graduate worked in the jail, as well as fugitive transport. Baucom earned an Associate Degree from Central Piedmont Community College in General Education.

He joined the Cornelius force in 1999.

Back then he never dreamed there would be protests on the I-77 bridge.

“It would have never been a thought in my mind,” he said.

He has worked every division including commanding the SWAT team for more than eight years.

New are financial crimes and a different variety of drugs, some of them lethal.

A new degree

When it was apparent that Chief Kevin Black would be retiring, Baucom earned a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UNC Pembroke so he could qualify for the top job.


“I am truly honored by the opportunity to serve as the Chief of Police and my goal is to continue to make Cornelius a safe place to live, work and play,” the father of two said. “We appreciate the support all of our citizens provide to our officers and I look forward to providing the highest level of service we can to all of our citizens.”

Best day in policing: As a young patrol officer he found a child reported missing near the lake. The boy had wandered into a neighbor’s house and then could not figure out how to get out. Baucom opened the door on a hunch and there he was. “My son was almost the same age and I couldn’t imagine what his parents were going through.”

Worst day in policing: When Lt. James Quattlebaum was shot by a 16-year-old during a domestic dispute on Coachman’s Trace. Quattlebaum was saved by a bullet-proof vest but because the shot was fired at close range, he was badly injured and required surgery.

When there was turmoil and unrest around the country after the death of George Floyd, the Cornelius Police Dept. was an oasis of calm. Cornelius Police officers escorted protestors from the Police Station to Union Bethel AME Zion. There were no incidents.

Responding to the times

Baucom was also involved in a review of the  “Use of Force” policy that resulted in clarifying language requiring officers to intervene to stop wrongdoing and prevent excessive use of force by another officer.

The topic was covered under the “Rules of Conduct” policy but has been added to the “Use of Force” policy as well.

Challenges Baucom faces include I-77 itself, a quick in and out for those with nefarious intent. Then, too, there’s a nationwide shortage of police officers.

Dozens of surveillance cameras deployed strategically around W Cornelius help deter crime and help with investigations.

Cornelius is down to three or four vacancies, about a third of year-ago levels.

“We hope to be able to pick up some recent graduates,” Baucom said, so the force is fully staffed. Right now there are four female officers, but the number can fluctuate.

“We’re trying to hire more female officers,” Baucom said, but given the overall labor market, it’s difficult.

The current command staff all started as officers and worked their way up through the ranks., Baucom said.

Mayor Woody Washam said Baucomm’s promotion to Chief of Police is a reflection of his many years of accomplishments in law enforcement leadership in our town and region.

“While he has big shoes to fill, the elevation of soon-to-be Chief Baucom will continue the high level of commitment to public safety reflecting the Cornelius way.  I look forward to working with him as he takes our town to the next level in keeping us safe,” Washam said.

Snapshot | David Baucom

Swearing in as Chief of Police: Jan. 3, 2023


Family: Wife Karen, two children

What he wanted to be when he grew up: ‘I had no idea.’

First job: Little Caesars pizza in Mint Hill

First car: Mustang

Education: Central Piedmont Community College, Bachelor’s degree from UNC Pembroke

Interests and hobbies: Hunting, fishing, horseback riding, anything involving the outdoors, as well as wood-working and carpentry.