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Attorney General Josh Stein Announces New Criminal Justice Standards Director

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced that he has hired J. Jeffrey Smythe, former chief of police for the Burlington Police Department, as the new director of the North Carolina Criminal Justice Standards Division. Smythe will replace Steven Combs, who left the role earlier this year and is now leading the Office of Special Investigations at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

“I’m really pleased that Chief Smythe will be leading our Criminal Justice Standards Division,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “He has dedicated much of his life to improving public safety and law enforcement practices across America and now in North Carolina. The experience and commitment to public service that he brings to this new role will help ensure that we have the best-trained law enforcement officers serving our communities and will make our state safer and stronger. I have particularly appreciated his constructive work on the Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice.”

“I am thrilled at this opportunity,” said Chief Smythe. “I hope to leverage my existing relationships and build additional relationships in policing and corrections around all of North Carolina. Our communities deserve the finest police and corrections staff and I am confident that we can continue to vet the best new officers and hold all police accountable for ethical policing strategies.”

From 2013 to May of this year, Smythe served as the Burlington Chief of Police, where he led a department of 139 sworn officers, 41 professional staff, a combined police/fire dispatch center, a regional SWAT team, and a county-wide drug task force. As chief, Smythe implemented initiatives focused on de-escalation, reduction of use of force, duty to intervene, addressing implicit bias, and mental health and addiction support. He also serves in a voluntary role as a commissioner for the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which establishes public safety best practices for professional conduct across North America or at the international level. Previously, he served as a board member and vice president for the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police.

Smythe began his career as a police officer with the Arizona State University Police Department in Tempe, Arizona. He received his undergraduate degree in criminal justice studies from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University. He’s also a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and the FBI National Academy.

The Criminal Justice Standards Division is part of the Department of Justice and carries out the work of the Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. The Commission adopts standards and topics for training and certification for all sworn police officers, correctional officers, probation/parole officers, juvenile justice officers, and juvenile court counselors in North Carolina, and reviews individual violations of the rules.