Mebane police chief announces retirement – this time, for real

Long-time Mebane police chief Terry Caldwell, who has been Mebane’s top law enforcement officer for the past 17 years, has decided – again – to retire, this time apparently for real.

In 2021, Caldwell made a March 23 announcement to the city council, announcing an intention to retire June 1 of that year – at that point after a 28-year tenure with the department, 16 as chief.

But entreaties from the city manager and city councilmen persuaded the chief to reconsider, and he agreed two months later to stay “for at least another two years.”

In a May 2021 interview with The Alamance News, Caldwell explained that once the city began the process of soliciting applications, which it started the day after his announcement to the city council, city manager Chris Rollins subsequently approached him to ask, “Are you sure you want to retire?”

The chief said he had been having second thoughts because he wasn’t really leaving because he was “tired or ‘burned out.’” He added, “It seemed to me,” he told the newspaper that year, “there might be some chapters [yet] unread.”

Caldwell said in 2021 that he could envision staying around “a couple more years,” elaborating that he had committed to the city manager to remain a minimum of two more years.

But on Monday night, Caldwell, now 56, said the time for retirement had come. City manager Chris Rollins termed the 2021 announcement a “practice version,” telling the city council that he would begin the process of hiring a firm, Developmental Associates, to begin the search for a new police chief.

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.)

After more than 30 years in law enforcement posts, Caldwell said in 2021, “I had kind of battled with retirement for a couple of years now,” he confessed, but decided he wanted to stay because of some of the major developments on the horizon for the city and the police department.

Caldwell rose through the ranks during a 30-year career on the Mebane police force, was named chief in 2005; he is the longest-serving municipal police chief in Alamance County and second among all chief law enforcement officers in the area; only sheriff Terry Johnson, first elected in 2002, has served longer.

Caldwell, who is from Chapel Hill, is a Western Carolina University graduate. His father had a career with the campus police at UNC, which prompted Caldwell himself to consider a career in law enforcement career. His first law enforcement job was in the U.S. Army, where he served for six years. He also served with the Alamance County sheriff’s office before joining Mebane’s municipal force.

Caldwell announced Monday night a July 14 departure date – true to his promise, just over two years from his original, planned departure (June 1, 2021).

Read 2021 stories:

Original (March 2021) police chief’s announcement of retirement to city council:

Subsequent (May 2021) decision to stay on for at least two more years:


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