DPS Black History Month Spotlight: Charles Hinsley

Author: Kirsten Barber

For Black History Month, the Department of Public Safety is spotlighting employees who have gone above and beyond – either through their job or in their free time – to support COVID-19 safety and healing in their communities. Find more inspiring stories here.

When he joined the Department of Public Safety in 2011, Charles Hinsley already had worked 24 years at the Illinois Department of Corrections, before he retired from as a warden. Hinsley states that since he was still young when he retired in Illinois, he wanted to return to his native state of North Carolina and find some work that allowed him to use the experience and skills he had built over the course of his career in corrections.

After four years with the Community Corrections section, he was promoted to his current role as a Judicial Services Specialist. 

Hinsley’s role led him to manage a job training program where he was introduced to Greg Commander, public speaker and founder of Commander Peace Academy. Commander targets at-risk youth and offenders re-entering their community in the High Point area and uses his own experience to motivate them to make positive choices and to turn away from criminal activities. When Hinsley was asked to help expand the non-profit’s impact in the community, he instantly agreed.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many barriers to arise in community services and outreach. Additionally, it was reported by the NC Department of Health and Human Services in May of 2020 that North Carolina’s African Americans made up a disproportionate number of the state’s COVID-19 laboratory confirmed cases and deaths. Members of Commander Peace Academy came up with the idea to hold an outreach event to spread the word of how to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic. They ordered masks branded with the non-profit’s name and “Mask Up” for the event, as well as an informational card that outlined the importance of wearing a mask in public spaces. With the help of university and community partners, more than one thousand masks were distributed throughout High Point neighborhoods.

“We held the event one weekend in October. In order to get the word out about wearing masks we flooded that community to pass out the masks and cards,” Hinsley said. “Masks are a major defense against the virus, and we wanted to promote good safety practices and teach the community how to reduce their risk.”

Hinsley says he tries to lead by example when it comes to protecting his health during the pandemic and the health of those around him. He wears a mask wherever he goes and never shies away from having a conversation about it. In order to protect those on his team in Guilford County, Hinsley had barriers made to add an extra layer of protection in addition to the department’s ongoing safety measures. If he can reinforce COVID-19 health best practices, he does it.

Hinsley says that the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded him of the importance of being connected with others. He chose a career in human service because he enjoys helping those in his community and is committed to serving others. He says that African American history inspires him and that he has a “collective inspiration” of individuals, past and present, whom he respects, looks up to and constantly learns from.

Related Topics: