That’s the one word Roanoke Rapids Police Department Deputy Chief Andy Jackson would use to sum up his career.
Jackson’s retirement becomes official June 1, he said, driving the streets of the city where he was born and since 2000 has spent as an officer.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to do what I always wanted to do — police work. I’ve been drawn to it since a child. It’s good versus evil. It’s the thought of being able to help other people out.”
For Chief Chuck Hasty it has always been Jackson’s commitment to the community which he admires. “I’m going to miss him. He’s been an asset to the department. He helped me transition to the chief’s job.”
Hasty is thankful Jackson will continue to help the department through events like National Night Out and summer camps. “He’s not leaving us for good.”
Learning the system inside out
For Jackson, his road to the Roanoke Rapids Police Department began in 1989 when he took a job with the North Carolina Department of Correction, now the state Department of Public Safety. “I wanted to see what life behind bars was like. The goal was to learn everything about the criminal justice system inside out. I’ve been told if you could survive in a prison, street survival would be easy.”
Jackson’s work in corrections saw him progress to the rank of lieutenant during a time when Caledonia housed close and maximum security inmates. Among the incarcerated, he said, were some of the most notorious prisoners, many serving life sentences.
The 11 years with DOC, he said, taught him valuable lessons. “You learn a lot. You learn how to talk and treat people. You learn a set of skills you can carry over on the street.”
It also taught him how to deal with deviant people and those who circumvent laws. “You learn how to better deal with people like that.”
And, Jackson said, “You also learn to never judge a book by the cover. You will meet people in prison like you meet on the streets, that if given a chance they could probably make good.”
One he recalls did.
He was a person serving a stretch for an armed robbery in Roanoke Rapids. “I see him out now. He has a job and family. He’s taken steps in his life that are leading him down the right road. No doubt he will stay on a correct path.”
The ultimate goal
Jackson’s desire was to join the police department. “Ultimately that was the goal. No two days are exactly alike. It doesn’t get boring or routine.”
He went to work for the police department in 2000, starting as a patrolman, and using the lessons he learned through DOC to bolster the lessons taught in police academy. “It helps you in the way you communicate with people.”
By 2005 he became a patrol sergeant and by 2008 was made chief administrative officer “and doing a lot of community policing.”
National Night Out became a staple. “We had done smaller National Night Outs. We wanted more community involvement. It continues to grow having other law enforcement agencies with us.”
The next big step was being named captain of criminal investigations. “I learned our staff is properly trained, capable of doing anything any other law enforcement agency can do. We’ve upgraded equipment and are processing crime scenes more efficiently.”
Having those capabilities helps investigators without having to rely on assistance from other agencies hundreds of miles away and losing valuable time, he said. “While the aid is appreciated, having the tools to process crime scenes helps expedite the work.”
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation helped the police department hone critical investigative procedures in the aftermath of the 2010 murder of a mother and daughter which eventually led to the conviction of Tony Maurice Gorham. “Through the sharing of knowledge and technology, it taught us things we could do to enhance our department and now we are up to speed.”
From there he was named patrol captain. “I can’t say enough about the guys on patrol. These are the boots on the ground that make it happen. They’re the first on the scene day in and day out. They answer calls ranging from animals calls to social work calls to crimes. Sometimes they step in and act as substitute parents.”
Said Jackson: “I can’t say enough about the day in, day out stresses they go through. They hold it together even in the midst of being criticized. They stay the course.”
- Jackson speaks with Bobby Alzer at his Bolling Road store. Jackson speaks with Bobby Alzer at his Bolling Road store.
The one goal which eluded Jackson in his police career was being named chief.
“I think ultimately most people would ultimately like to become chief. It’s the highest rank you can hold.”
He says, however, “I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve as interim chief. I guess you could say I did reach that goal. It’s hard to hold bitterness when you’re doing what you love to do. Chief Hasty and the city manager have been more than gracious and they’re good people to work with.”
Driving around the city today, Jackson said there is more work which needs to be done to better Roanoke Rapids. “I was born and raised in Roanoke Rapids. This is my hometown. I truly believe it’s been a blessing to work and serve in the community I grew up in.”
Jackson views the city as a gem. “Gems are a little rough, something that needs polishing to shine. I believe the town has a lot of potential. The parks and recreation department has so much to offer kids. We have some of the best ball facilities for a small town.”
Jackson was behind the effort which led to a skate park being built at T.J. Davis, a need which was identified in patrols throughout the city.
Industry and training is what is needed. “There is still a lot of work to be done. People need to be a little more diligent. The potential has always been there.”
Legacy and the future
Jackson believes he will be remembered as an officer who took a community approach and had a listening ear through “listening to the issues and trying to resolve those issues.”
He says he believes he will be remembered through his youth work. “The police camp has been blessed to be a tradition. It will be continued. It is important because the youth will be our future leaders. We need to make a commitment to our youth.”
Citizens Police Academy remains strong and he expects to see a revamping of the program.
The case he is most proud to have worked on was the case in which Gorham ended up being convicted in the murders of Maxine McCrary and Nancy Burgess in May of 2010. “They were accepting of everyone. They were willing to help anybody in need. To be taken advantage of like they were and then attacked in such a violent manner it’s just hard for the human mind to come to grips with.”
The one case he wishes could be solved before he takes leave is that of Shonda Stansbury, who has been missing since 2007. ”It’s still a very active case. One of my goals was to find Shonda Stansbury. No one vanishes without a trace. Someone knows something. The family has lived in torment for years wondering who, what and why and we would all like an answer for those question which could give the family peace of mind.”
Jackson plans on staying active after retirement. “People will see me pop up in the community.”
With a son getting ready for college, “I’ll really need to stay busy.”
Hasty simply surmises Jackson’s legacy. “He’s been involved in the community to make our area a better place.”