Community Outreach Spotlight

New Bern Noble Knights

Submitted by Chief Patrick Gallagher, who heads the New Bern, North Carolina, Police Department and is a graduate of FBI National Academy Session 244.

A New Bern police officer playing chess with a teenage boy.

Officers of the New Bern, North Carolina, Police Department (NBPD) were excited to launch a new youth outreach program, the New Bern Noble Knights. Aimed at advancing positive relationships with New Bern’s diverse community, the program teaches students as young as 6 years old the basics of chess and helps them develop advanced skills.

There is no cost to participate, and no prior chess knowledge or experience is required. Parents are also welcome so they can learn and play the game with their kids at home.

In January 2022, the first 12-week session of the New Bern Noble Knights began. The program mirrored the school calendar and ended just before summer break. Over the next several months, the club met every Monday night for 90 minutes.

Chess is one of the oldest and most widely played games in the world, supporting brain development in areas important for children, such as problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, planning, prioritizing, and creative thinking. The New Bern Noble Knights utilizes the game as a platform for NBPD officers, support employees, and community volunteers to engage with and mentor youths.

New Bern Police Chief watching two teens play a game of chess.

“Learning to play chess when I was little helped me develop perspective,” said Officer Rachaud Russell, who often plays chess with friends. “It helped me build self-confidence and curiosity. I learned to ask ‘why’ instead of just accepting things as they are.” Officer Russell volunteered to participate in the New Bern Noble Knights so he could help kids develop the same outlook he did and learn to enjoy the game.

Officer Jared Woody stated, “I recently started playing again and was excited when our department started discussing the idea of a local chess club. Chess is a mind game. It exercises your brain, forces you to think ahead, and is a masterful teacher of the art of patience.”

Fortunately, a local, nationally recognized chess instructor agreed to partner with the New Bern Noble Knights to teach the game’s fundamentals. Each week, students gained more confidence and improved their skill levels. The first session ended with a tournament, awarding winners with specialized medals. Every participant also received a custom medallion to honor their commitment to the program. 

Public reaction was so positive that the group’s meeting location had to be moved to a larger venue due to the number of participants. With the overwhelming success of the New Bern Noble Knight’s inaugural session, the NBPD achieved more than it had set out to accomplish and plans to continue offering the program.

A group photo of officers and participants of the New Bern Noble Knights Chess Club.

For more information on the New Bern Noble Knights, contact Chief Gallagher at