Wednesday, May 22, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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A textbook police chief


Two years ago, we were remiss in not commenting on the intended and announced retirement of Mebane police chief Terry Caldwell.

Fortunately, our oversight was negated when Caldwell was persuaded (by the city manager and city council members) to stay on for another two years.

But this week, he announced he was really going to retire, now setting a date of July 14 to retire from 30 years of service in Mebane.

Caldwell came up the ranks the old-fashioned way. Most of his career has been spent with the Mebane Police Department, first as a regular officer, and ultimately up the ladder, being named chief in 2005.

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Caldwell is the most senior and longest-serving police chief in the county, having served 17 years in that role. In fact, among all law enforcement officers, only sheriff Terry Johnson has served longer – Johnson as sheriff since 2002.

We like it when people are dedicated to their job, to their city, and spend a lifetime committed to both.

Caldwell has been the epitome of the best in law enforcement – anywhere.

He is unfailingly professional – toward council members (some of whom, like this newspaper’s reporters) may occasionally ask uncomfortable questions and the public, as we have also had occasion to observe.

He is well-informed on the status of his department’s officers, a stickler for professionalism up and down the line among rank-and-file officers.

He is, almost literally, a straight arrow – with a military-like bearing and a strong, straight posture that conveys the seriousness with which he takes. . . well, everything.

As best we can ascertain, he was the best candidate available in 2005, and he has remained the best person to lead his agency through those years, which have included some pretty tumultuous times – at least at the national level.

He has done an outstanding job in the intervening 17 years – without any attempt, as best we can observe, to seek any special credit, or shield any blame.

We only wish law enforcement agencies – not only in Mebane, but elsewhere – could clone him or have him teach their officers how to be professional law enforcement officers and models for their communities.

We wish him only the best in an early (age 56) retirement. We won’t be surprised to see him take up some other endeavor(s).

He says he’s planning to stay around Mebane, so other agencies might seek to impose on his time and expertise.

Mebane officials, past and present, can be rightly proud of the trailblazing job this law enforcement officer has exhibited during his 30-year tenure, 17 as chief, with the Mebane Police Department.

Mebane mayor Ed Hooks and police chief Terry Caldwell after Monday night’s meeting where Caldwell announced his retirement after 30 years with the city. (The mayor’s right arm is in a sling as a result of a fall off a step last week while putting up Christmas decorations, resulting in a dislocated shoulder.)

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