Ricky Parks said he is in a state of disbelief and shock since Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris recently informed him he is the local business booster organization’s distinguished citizen of the year.
“I’m just totally honored and humbled by it,” Parks, who is the chief deputy marshal of the state Supreme Court, told the Telegram on Wednesday.
“I mean, I’ll be honest with you, I totally choked up and shed a couple of tears when David Farris told me,” Parks said.
Additionally, Parks said he gives thanks to God, to his wife, Rebecca Parks, who is a partner at an accounting firm, and to the family’s children.
Ricky Parks will receive the top citizen award at the Chamber’s annual gathering on Feb. 6 at Nash Community College.
The event will start at 6 p.m. and the featured speaker will be one of the judicial officials Parks is assigned to protect, state Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.
Parks said he has at past annual Chamber banquets always had total admiration for citizen of the year honorees.
This time, Parks will be a unique recipient because Farris cannot ever recall a lawman being named the top citizen in the organization’s recent history.
Parks, 53, since April 2016 has been serving the state, but he remains firm in his roots locally by serving as a part-time Rocky Mount police officer.
Parks, with a desire to want to help people, joined the city police department full time in 1987. He served on the city force for about 2½ years before joining the Nash County Sheriff’s Office. He served about nine years with the Sheriff’s Office before rejoining the city force.
He chose to remain a part-timer on the city force after then-state Chief Justice Mark Martin offered him the chief deputy marshal position in Raleigh.
He said he works about eight hours a month on the city beat and that doing so keeps things in perspective.
“And I’m still engaged, still involved, still live in Rocky Mount,” Parks said. “People thought I would move when I took the job in Raleigh, but that’s not the case.
“You’re not gonna be able to get rid of me,” Parks said. “I’m here to stay. And I’m always going to be involved.”
Locally, his past involvement has included serving the Peacemakers Family Center, which helps the under-resourced South Rocky Mount area, and My Sister’s House, which provides outreach and shelter services to domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.
He also has served as chairman of the Rocky Mount Prep School Board of Trustees.
At the state level, his involvement has included having served as a criminal justice education and training standards commissioner. He presently is on the governor’s task force for safer schools.
Parks has served Democratic and Republican governors and he made clear there is neither a Democratic nor a Republican way to wear a uniform and a badge and carry a service firearm.
Parks was quick to state that, in his years as a lawman, “There’s never been a time that I walked up to a door and knocked and said, ‘Now, before I help you: Are you a Democrat? Are you Republican? Are you this? Are you that?’
“It doesn’t really matter,” Parks said. “You’re there for people, period. And that’s why the scales of justice have the blindfolds on.”
Parks said, “It’s not the look. It’s not the affiliation. It’s the human factor that calls us to help others.”
He also said he tells people, “I bring Raleigh to Rocky Mount and I take Rocky Mount to Raleigh every chance I get.”
Farris told the Telegram that Parks quietly goes about assisting people at every level and helps build a better community.
Farris also said Parks has the unique ability to, when he sees someone, make that person feel like he or she is the very person Parks had hoped to see.
“If he doesn’t make you feel like his closest friend, it’s simply because that person doesn’t know Ricky and Ricky doesn’t know that person yet,” Farris said.
Of Parks continuing to get into a Rocky Mount police car and go on patrol in the city, Farris said, “He’s a person who doesn’t say, ‘I want to make a difference.’ He’s a person that just does it. He doesn’t talk the talk. He just walks the walk.”
Parks being named the Rocky Mount Area Chamber’s citizen of the year drew words of praise from Nash County’s current top lawman.
“What an awesome pick,” Sheriff Keith Stone told the Telegram. “Ricky has always been a very civic-minded person. I think that the Chamber put a lot of thought into this — and could not have picked a better person.”