Mebane police chief reverses retirement announcement, will stay on – for at least two more years

Mebane police chief Terry Caldwell, who had announced his retirement on March 23 effective June 1, has decided, instead, to remain in his post for at least another two years.

In an interview with The Alamance News, Caldwell said 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.’” “It seemed to me,” he told the newspaper, “there might be some chapters [yet] unread.”

After more than 30 years “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 28-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, 55, said there was a lot going on in Mebane that he would like to remain to participate in.

Among those he cited is the reaccreditation process for the police department. He is also looking forward to the possibility of building a new police station, a request he had made to the council members the same night he announced to them his plans to retire.

City manager Rollins has included preliminary plans for beginning the process for design, land purchase, etc. in the next phase of budgeting for the future.

In the budget he presented to the council this week, Rollins consented to Caldwell’s budget request for four additional patrol officers and an investigator; Caldwell had noted to the council during that budget session on March 23 that this represented the third consecutive year he had made the request.

In the interview with the newspaper, Caldwell made clear that he did not submit his resignation for any sort of “negotiating” purpose or strategy.

“A big part of me wanted to be part of these developments,” he conceded.

In particular, Caldwell says he wanted to see the planning for the new police station “get underway.” While he says he “might not be here when it’s built,” he wants to influence various considerations about its future location, design, and construction.

He says he can envision staying around “a couple more years,” elaborating that he had committed to the city manager to remain a minimum of two more years.