Six new Rocky Mount police officers took the oath of office Friday at a ceremony that also honored a retiring corporal and the promotion of 12 other officers.
“To our newly hired officers, you occasionally will have to use force, but the majority of the time – if you have confidence in your badge and in yourself – no force will be necessary,” Police Chief James Moore said, following the tale of an “Andy Griffith” episode in which Deputy Barney Fife learned the same lesson.
The mint-condition silver badges were pinned to the freshly pressed uniforms of the new officers by new coworkers and loved ones. Officer Patrick Pipkin jumped as his fiance stuck the sharp pin into his chest, but kissed her afterward.
Each ceremonial pinning was finished with the snap of cameras and a ruckus of applause from the packed Booker T. Theatre.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of the men and women here for what they do everyday to make our community safe,” Mayor David Combs said.
Moore recalled another “Andy Griffith Show” episode as he recognized the service of police Cpl. Gary Snyder, who joined the department in 1991 and served 14 years as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer and a school resource officer.
Community Services Manager Linda Jones said Snyder taught DARE to more than 800 students a year and became a role model for more than 10,000 students in the process. She said each summer, Snyder would get a group of students together to build a project at one of the schools, mentoring them and teaching the students skills along the way.
“If you look at the elementary schools and middle schools in our community, you will still see some of the structures they built,” Jones said. “We all leave a legacy, and his is the lives he has touched.”
Snyder thanked everyone for their support throughout his career, including compassion from his supervisors during a challenging year in terms of health.
“I’ve enjoyed my time, but it is time to move on,” he said
When it came time for the promotion of employees to the position of animal control supervisor and the ranks of corporal, sergeant, lieutenant and captain, Moore spoke about the process each went through.
He said he helped to implement a similar assessment center process in his former department in Wilmington because research shows the process is geared toward real-life scenarios and tests a candidate’s response.
He said research and the court system have upheld the assessment process as fair.
“James Moore loves the assessment center,” Moore said with a smile. “It is more fair in terms of race, gender and age because it measures an employee on their actual behavior.”
Moore took time to thank the loved ones of all the officers for the support and assured those who were not promoted that additional spots will open through retirements, and others will be selected from the process.
“President Calvin Coolidge said, ‘Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent,’ ” Moore said.
“Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
One-by-one the promotees with nearly 150 years of combined experience in the department were called forward for spouses, parents and even a young daughter to pin the new rank on their officers.
The mid-afternoon ceremony concluded with refreshments and more pictures of the proud officers.