Vass Police Undergo Overhaul in Past Year
The Vass Police Department has a new presence in town, and it isn’t just the three new, state-of-the-art police cruisers purchased this summer.
It goes deeper than that. It’s a whole new way of doing business.
The changes come from Chief Brian Deel, who was hired a year ago.
Deel, who came to Vass from the Holly Ridge Police Department in Onslow County, inherited a department that was, in his words, “a little behind” and in need of some upgrades in order to move forward.
“Day 1 when I walked through that door, I thought, ‘What did I get myself into?’” Deel said.
But in the last year, Deel has revamped, reshaped, and retooled the department to rave reviews from those in the town, and within the department.
He has worked with the officers, both full-time and reserve, and town officials to improve the adminstration of the department. Protocols for filing reports, evidence procedures, technology improvements, police vehicles, increased presence in the community and a detailed review of polices are just some of the areas that were addressed over the past year.
“Every situation is different, and you never know how people will receive new ideas,” Deel said. “When I got here, these guys had so much freedom that it made me wonder how I was going to pull the guys together.”
Turns out a lot of leading by example through hard work and even more communication was the perfect formula to get the support needed for change.
“Within that first week I knew things were going to be OK,” Deel said.
In addition to Deel, the department has two full-time officers — Brian Beck and Drew Schofield — and four reserve or part-time officers: Rick Bickel, Tim Blake, Seth Patterson and Jason Phillips.
Beck said Deel’s tenure has been a “good thing” for the department and that the changes have made a difference.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Chief Deel,” Beck said. “It is nice to have somebody who cares about you and what you do.”
The additional reserve officers allow the department to have someone on duty 24 hours a day. Officers are also more visible in the community, something that is earning them points with local business owners and residents alike, Deel said.
“Now we hear, ‘We see you guys all the time, when we used to not see you at all.’”
The changes in the department haven’t gone unnoticed by Mayor Eddie Callahan, who helped hire Deel to replace Rick Bibey.
“It is nice to have someone come up to you in the grocery store, or while you are putting gas in your car, and say something great and something positive (about the department). All the guys (in the department) have gotten a lot of positive feedback and that is a reflection on him.”
Callahan praised Deel for aggressively growing the department in a “fiscally responsible way.”
“There is more visibility within the community,” Deel said. “The Sheriff’s Department helps up out when we need it, but it is nice when somebody in Vass calls 911, they get a Vass officer.”
Callahan said when hiring the new chief last year he and the town board were hoping to find a person who was committed to the town, and also had a vision for the department as it related to the needs of the community now and in the future.
Callahan described the new chief as a smart, cool guy, and one that you would want to hang out with.
“He’s like a great coach,” Callahan said. “He knows his players and he puts them in the best position to do the most good.”
Callahan said he and the town board have worked closely with Deel this past year to try to upgrade the department. One of those upgrades was the purchase of the three new cruisers, two marked and one unmarked.
“They are pretty hot,” Callahan said of the vehicles. “They were what we needed because it gives a new face to the entire department.”
And while there has been plenty of positive changes in Deel’s first year with the department, the new chief vows to try to do everything he can to continue to build on those changes in his second year at the helm.
He hopes to continue to improve community relations by getting his officers involved in programs like a weekly movie night, or speaking to children at the local schools. Anything, he said, to “help bridge the gap between the officers and the community.”
“I’m looking forward to what next year is going to bring,” Deel said.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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